Freddy Shepherd was replaced as chairman of Newcastle United yesterday by his deputy Chris Mort, who is Mike Ashley’s top man at the club.
Shepherd and his family of course sold their 28 percent stake in the club to Ashley who runs Britain’s biggest sports retailer, Sports Direct.
The Newcastle takeover became fully effective when Ashley last week finally acquired all the shares of Newcastle United PLC and took the club off the stock market and into private ownership after ten years as a public company.
The appointment completes the overhaul at the top of the club since the end of last season when Newcastle finished a disappointing 13th in the table with only 43 points – their lowest points total ever in the Premiership.
New Chairman Chris Mort was quoted as saying on the club’s official Web site
“I am delighted to become chairman of such a fabulous club,”
“Since arriving at St James’ Park I have been hugely encouraged by the warm welcome I have received from fans.â€
“The strategic review of the club is going well and, with the new season fast approaching, we feel the time is right to make the change.”
This marks the end of one era and the beginning of another hopefully more successful one at Newcastle United. Certainly the fans are hoping so.
A source close to Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was also quoted as saying:
“Mike felt that it was in the best interests of everyone to have a fresh start at the club.”“He had always wanted to bring his own men in and now he feels it’s the right time to do it.
From what he saw, Freddy is dispensable.”
“Sam Allardyce’s contacts in the football world are second to none and while Mike appreciates Freddy’s passion for Newcastle it was time for a change.”
The 10 year reign of Shepherd as Newcastle Chairman was not very successful and the image of Newcastle United went on a downward spiral. After taking over the Chairmanship from Sir John Hall on December 1st, 1997, Shepherd was caught mocking the club’s supporters to undercover reporters and claimed that talisman Alan Shearer was the Mary Poppins of football.
Freddy made some bad choices for managers including Kenny Dalglish, Ruud Gullit and Graeme Souness with none of these lasting more than a season and a half. The many managers appointed and sacked by Shepherd didn’t help the stability of the club of course.
The best manager Shepherd appointed was Sir Bobby Robson without doubt – and we had a good five years of coming back towards the top and finishing 4th, 3rd and 5th in the Premiership in successive years. Shepherd once famously said ‘You don’t sack Bobby Robson’ and then sacked him at the start of the 2004-2005 season. Unfortunately Shepherd sacked Dalglish, Gullit and Robson at the start of the season after they had just brought in their own players. That didn’t make it easy for the next manager coming in and was hardly good business management by Freddy.
Rather than the end of an era – Newcastle fans will signal this as the beginning of a new era under English Billionaire owner Mike Ashley and Chairman Chris Mort. With Sam Allardyce appointed manager and having overhauled both the team and the back-room staff we are all hoping for much better times at Newcastle.
It is clear we need to lift the image of the club but we feel that is already happening with Chris Mort seeming to run the club professionally and Sam knowing exactly what he has to do as manager.
Freddy Shepherd was a mad keen Newcastle supporter â€“ there is little doubt about that â€“ and he would have loved to have brought Newcastle success â€“ but for whatever reasons he didn’t possess the ability to ever stabilize the club. At the end the Newcastle fans in truth were glad to see him go â€“ that’s his unfortunate legacy at the club.