Could Freddy Shepherd Return To Newcastle?

Freddy Shepherd was interviewed by talkSPORT a few days ago, in what was called an exclusive, and he had some interesting things to say about Newcastle United, the club he was Chairman at for ten years from December of 1997 though August of 2007, after Mike Ashley had bought the club.

freddy shepherd recent

Freddy Shepherd – former Newcastle United Chairman

Shepherd was speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast show late last week, and even defended Alan Pardew:

“If you don’t give the guy the right ammunition, he’s not going to win.¨ “I’m the last one to tell them to start changing managers because I had quite a few in my time there. Sometimes you have got to bite the bullet though. Where Pardew is concerned, if you don’t give him the money to buy players, then you are going to get into trouble.¨

“Newcastle must buy players in the close season. Pardew has been told to achieve tenth position, at worst, and he has done what he was asked to do.” “The best manager in the world is not going to be successful if he isn’t given the money and the right players.”

“I’m not bragging but I think a bit of stardust left the club when John Hall and myself left (you are bragging)¨ There’s something missing there at the club and I think the supporters will agree with that.¨

“I don’t think Mike Ashley would welcome me back, it would be too much of a setback for him, but it certainly needs someone there who could revive the club.¨ “You can never say never, as I have said many times before. I would have to look at the situation if he wasn’t there.”

In fact it’s something we have thought about – that Freddy Shepherd could possibly return to Newcastle with Mike Ashley still the owner.

And at least Freddy would provide some real ambition, and if he was able to abide by the money allowed to be spent at the club by Ashley, maybe he could do some good.

Freddy wouldn’t be controlling the finances, which he wasn’t good at in any case, when he was Newcastle Chairman, but he would provide some local ambition at the club – which has been sadly missing in the Mike Ashley era.

But the reality is that Shepherd and Ashley just don’t see eye to eye, and it simply wouldn’t work – and there are probably still some lingering upsets about the way Ashley bought the shares from Freddy, when he was sick, as we recall.

But we need some local pride and ambition at the club somewhere – and we dare say if Shepherd was employed by Ashley, it could be received positively by Newcastle fans.

We didn’t think Freddy did a good job financially when he ran Newcastle United, but that’s not what’s needed now – the finances are in very good shape – something Ashley does very well at.

What we need now is some real Geordie ambition, and Freddie has that – and we need some (very) good players so we can translate that financial health to having a very good  team on the pitch.

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Comments welcome.

32 comments so far

  • SuperShearer

    May 18, 2014 at 11:04 PM

    Comment #1

    Didn’t Sheperd almost run this club into the ground? I was under the impression that had MA done his due diligence before buying the club he would never have bought it due to the huge debt we were in that would likely have sent us the way of Leeds and Pompey. If that is true then I hope we give him a wide birth.

  • SuperShearer

    May 18, 2014 at 11:05 PM

    Comment #2

    Ooops….meant “wide berth” there. What I wrote conjures horrible images. Sorry.

  • lesh

    May 18, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Comment #3

    Freddy Shepherd did a good job financially when he and John Hall held the purse-strings?

    What? He left a lot of debt and the club was mortgagee to the hilt.

    However, Freddy’s right in that he and Hall did spray stardust (where has Mr Stardust gone? We miss him) into the club.

    But given the way Ashley leaned on Shepherd to buy him out when he was in hospital, I can’t see a partnership working.

    Unless Freddy and others (with Keegan being the face of the consortium) were to come to a face-saving business arrangement whereby Ashley either sells out or becomes a substantial shareholding partner, it’s not gonna happen.

    However, some blue-sky out if the box thinking between the parties could just present an all-round everybody happy ‘partnership’ arrangement.

    Sounds like a win-win situation could be a possibility – if the will’s there to make it work.

    C’mon Freddy, c’mon Ashley, put your hands together and make it work.

  • toon22

    May 18, 2014 at 11:16 PM

    Comment #4

    As an MD with MA as an owner

    Hell yeh.

    It would mean MA its totally hands off.It cant be a bad thing imho.

  • croftus5678

    May 18, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    Comment #5

    erm….by really good financially you mean because we are not spending any money on new signings or because we have a debt free loan that has gone up from 78mil to 129mil but that profit year on year seems to harry houdini into thin air ?

    year on year we show profit but with no signings or little signings + what seems to be like an increase of a supposedly intrest free loan ! so where does the years profit go from the last 3 seasons ?

  • beermonkey

    May 18, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    Comment #6

    like both those players
    was surprised spurs let caulker go he had just had an England call up and was playing well
    caulker we could get if we wanted but Richards wages would be to big for us


    sorry mate it was a typo but a funny one

    and on this article its

    better the devil you know vs better the devil you know

  • Thump

    May 18, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    Comment #7

    @lesh: Stardy moved over to He was writing there for a while (he might still be?) and I think the WUMs over here did his nut in.

  • lesh

    May 18, 2014 at 11:59 PM

    Comment #8

    Thump, maybe Stardust’s still doing what he does best – he’s an outspoken, aggravating poster but nevertheless, highly intelligent and perceptive. We had many a joust over the years.

    Beermonkey, there is nit a nude for en apology, it was how you say, witty? =D;-)

  • lesh

    May 19, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    Comment #9

    Beermonkey :-D. 😉

  • beermonkey

    May 19, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    Comment #10


    its funny I saw an old episode allo allo the other day hated it when I was younger have to say it made me chuckle

  • Ben3arfa

    May 19, 2014 at 12:10 AM

    Comment #11

    another d1ck’ead chairman/owner

  • Thump

    May 19, 2014 at 12:14 AM

    Comment #12

    He’s a canny lad, actually. Fairly neutral in his opinions just a bit combative. Admittedly that only really came about when the same old rhetoric started being constantly spouted.

  • spitfire_

    May 19, 2014 at 12:21 AM

    Comment #13

    It’s true that Freddy bring a lot debt at the club… but at least this debt bring the club in top4. Ashley almost double the debt and for what? Mediocrity.

  • jimmysmith

    May 19, 2014 at 12:48 AM

    Comment #14

    Isn’t Freddy about the same age now as Sir Bobby was when he infamously sacked him on suspicion of being a doddering old duffer (sic). Ironic.

  • Thump

    May 19, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Comment #15

    @spitfire: He didn’t “double the debt”, he just moved the existing debt around and removed any potential interest. I guess that in that regard he’s saved us money in the short term (interest charges etc.), it just means that the asking price for the club is going to go up significantly when an interested party comes along as he wants it all paid up front.

    You’re right, though. FFS had more ambition for the club in his little toe than Ashley has in his entire body. I swear the bloke has NUFC finances hidden inside his Hustler magazines.

  • jimmysmith

    May 19, 2014 at 1:08 AM

    Comment #16

    Didn’t he also say that Ashley made an error in reappointing Keegan because he was “yesterday’s man”, or was that Sir John Hall, even so, silly season right enough.

    Milner to Arsenal? What a terrible loss he has proven to be. As bad a transfer as Cabaye was good, to put things in a clearer perspective perhaps regarding our overall pretty ordinary transfer policy and record under Ashley. Carroll doesn’t count either, he was here long before Ashley, and the ridiculous offer said far more about the nature of English football than any real negotiating acumen by Ashley and his cronies, it seems to me.

  • lesh

    May 19, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    Comment #18

    Thump, Stardust just a bit combative? Eh? A bit like Ghengis Khan when he got going;

    Great poster nevertheless.

    C’mon Herr von Stardust, show yourself, your people need your wisdom.

  • ilovetoon8788

    May 19, 2014 at 4:13 AM

    Comment #19

    Rather have Shepherd back all day.

    From the words of lee charnley, we all can can conclude we are existing in the league to fill up mikey’s coffers.

    rather than surviving in the league, atleast shepherd times the stadium was crazy and the city so passionate.

    it’s like walking on funeral grounds these days…

  • ilovetoon8788

    May 19, 2014 at 4:19 AM

    Comment #20

    Lescott, Micah Richards, Rodwell, Sinclair, Gareth Barry are all out of contract would love if all 5 english players join us.

    problem is, we’ll struggle to sign even a single one of their left boots, agent fees will dry our resources you know.. lol.

  • cyprus

    May 19, 2014 at 6:11 AM

    Comment #21

    If some of you don’t remember or know about Shepherd’s deeds at NUFC, please read up on him. You’ll laugh or cry. Ashley is a saint compared to him! And anyway, he can’t afford the club, never mind investing in new players etc.

  • Ian Toon

    May 19, 2014 at 6:40 AM

    Comment #22

    When it comes to reading up.

    The day the promises had to stop
    by Denis Cassidy

    As calls for improved governance of football clubs continue to be made, Denis Cassidy’s experiences after being appointed a non-executive director of Newcastle United in 1997 give an illustration of just what can go wrong. He remained in position for 20 months, during a period which spanned the removal of Kenny Dalglish and appointment of Ruud Gullit as well as the News of the World undercover sting which forced the owners Freddy Shepherd and Douglas Hall to leave the board for a short time.

    Despite the inside track he can provide, the book itself is a mixed bag. Though it’s styled as an attempt to show how the creation of the Premier League has affected the game in England, much of the book sets the scene for the section describing events during the short period Cassidy was on the board, and concludes with a run down of his thoughts on how to ensure success. Alex Ferguson’s views on success might prick up a few more ears, ?of course.

    That’s not to say that there isn’t interest in the rest of the book. Cassidy’s insider knowledge isn’t limited to the period of his tenure on the board and his excellent contacts mean the reader is often left wanting to hear more. At one point, he reports meeting Lord Taylor just after the delivery of the report which changed English football post-Hillsborough, frustratingly without any record of the conversation.

    It’s that 20-month period in the boardroom where the book comes to life, however. Though current owner Mike Ashley doesn’t escape criticism, Cassidy clearly disapproves of the way the Shepherds and Halls ran Newcastle; he calls them “vandals” at the point they are trying to force their way back into control of the plc board. He suggests John Hall used the club first as a promotional vehicle for his own regional interests then later as a cash cow for his other businesses. Cassidy points out that Newcastle abandoned corporate governance best practice when they removed independent directors from the board in favour of the majority shareholders’ nominees. The Shepherds and Halls are painted as draining the club to the point of financial chaos, to their own personal benefit.

  • Ian Toon

    May 19, 2014 at 6:50 AM

    Comment #23

    If you can’t be bothered to read the book- some extracts. Remember though that’s one person telling the story.

    Denis Cassidy Book :

    In it he claims that he was the one who told Shepherd and Doug to leave after Toongate.

    “A wave of shock and anger was sweeping through Tyneside and the boardroom was no different when I firmly recommended what action must be taken.

    “I was seriously unpopular with my colleagues on the board as a result, for a variety of reasons. Sir Terry Harrison, the chairman, said ‘you had no right to act in such a way – you aren’t the chairman, I am’.

    “Freddy, the culprit, exploded ‘don’t you ******* moralise at me and Sir John stated ‘you can’t force people who own the club to resign’.”

    Cassidy later became non-executive chairman but was forced out soon afterwards by the return of Shepherd and Doug.

    A few years later, Cassidy claims he was approached by Sir Bobby Robson who in a six hour meeting intimated that Shepherd and the Halls wanted rid.

    Bobby requested a private meeting that lasted six hours, during which he poured his heart out and repeatedly asked: “Why do they want me to go? Why?”

    However, Cassidy claims that, far from it being the friendly parting that official quotations would have fans believe, Robson was bewildered and hurt at his shoddy treatment.

    Recalling the long goodbye, Cassidy insists: “Bobby sought a meeting with me in private. He wanted to discuss his position at the club, and the sequence of provocative actions taken by Freddy Shepherd, with someone who knew the parties involved and had been around long enough in the upper reaches of business to offer some sound advice.

    “It was also important that we were contemporaries – both vintage February 1933 and fellow Geordies who liked each other.”

    The meeting was to go on for a mammoth six hours and, claims Denis: “Bobby was hurt and confused and was searching, not unreasonably, for a rational explanation, repeatedly asking me rhetorically: ‘But why do they want me to go Denis? We’ve finished third, fourth and fifth in the last three years. That’s the best performance since Kevin Keegan. Why?’

    “I told Bobby frankly that, whatever help I could offer, he should accept that there was no way back, and if the board wanted him to go then he should seek to manage his exit, if he could, to ensure that he preserved his dignity and reputation.

    “I stressed there was nothing he or I or anyone else could do to change that – I had been in a similar position at the club in 1998 – if Freddy and Douglas were determined to get rid of him. Yet Bobby still persisted with the question: ‘Why?

    “Ultimately I told him he must know the answer even if it seemed too trivial or ridiculous to be true. He thought carefully for a long time and then said: ‘Perhaps they are jealous of me, but that’s really too. . .daft! Look what I’ve done for them.

    “He told me frankly of his problems with Kieron Dyer, Craig Bellamy and Lee Bowyer but felt they were all ‘good lads’ who were valuable assets but needed firm guidance.

    “Bobby was at pains to stress his admiration for his skipper Alan Shearer and constantly extolled his virtues.

    “He never publicly or privately leaked mischievous stories. His attitude was in stark contrast to the deceitful undermining of him by the board.

    “Bobby remained a gentleman to the end, retaining his dignity, but behind the public face he was deeply hurt and confused by events.”

    By the Bank Holiday Monday after defeat and four games of a new season, Sir Bobby was diverted to St James Park from his routine drive to the training ground.

    Cassidy takes up the story again: “There, he was greeted by Freddy Shepherd with the words: ‘I am relieving you of your position immediately.’ This was followed by ‘I am an honourable man and we will honour your contract.’

    “Amid the seemingly endless coverage this attracted, one simple self-justifying statement made by Freddy has lodged in my memory to this day.

    “When referring to the previous season’s outcome he said: ‘Fifth position is not good enough for this club.’ Really? In the 11 seasons they had been in the Premiership they had achieved a top-five position only six times – three under Kevin Keegan and three under Bobby Robson.

    “The Hall-Shepherd partnership – because nobody else made significant decisions – had managed to disenchant the inspirational Kevin Keegan and dismiss Sir Bobby Robson, the most experienced and internationally successful English manager to date.

    “Even for those fans who did believe that Bobby was too old or had lost his grip, his public humiliation and sacking were shocking, reflecting badly on the club and all connected with it.

    “Newcastle United had gone from being the great entertainers of English football to being the Premiership pariahs.”

  • Ian Toon

    May 19, 2014 at 6:55 AM

    Comment #24

    In the interest of balance- something not always afforded on here.

    Freddy Shepherd and Douglas Hall in the mid 90s
    FORMER Toon chief Freddy Shepherd has furiously hit back at claims made about him in a new book by one of the club’s former board members.

    Denis Cassidy, who was a director and later chairman of the Magpies, has heavily criticised Shepherd in his account of events at St James’s Park in the late 1990s, including the infamous “Toongate” scandal.

    He claims he recommended Shepherd be sacked after he was caught up in the tabloid sting, describing his behaviour as “mindlessly juvenile.”

    Cassidy, who grew up in Newcastle’s West End but now lives in London, goes on to hit out at the way United’s finances were managed during the Shepherd family’s time at the helm.

    His book, Newcastle United The Day the Promises Had to Stop, covers the last 20 years of the Toon’s history and ends with an open letter to current owner Mike Ashley.

    But it is his version of the March 1998 Toongate scandal, which saw Shepherd and Douglas Hall caught on tape in a Spanish hotel, describing North East women as ‘Dogs’ and Alan Shearer as ‘Mary Poppins,’ that has angered his former boardroom colleague most.

    Today, Shepherd, 68, told the Chronicle: “I think we all, including Denis, made worthy contributions to the club, including building one of the finest stadiums in Europe and providing the fans with one of the most exciting times in the history of the club.

    “I am sure we would all do things differently if we had our time again but it is sad that Denis should recycle all these negative stories for the purposes of selling a book about his short time at the club.”

    Cassidy was born in Newcastle in 1933 and went on to have a varied business career, including being appointed managing director of British Home Stores in the 1980s and holding directorships at companies such as BAA, SEEBOARD and the Compass Group.

    He also held chairmanships at firms like Boddingtons, Liberty and Ferguson International before being head-hunted to be a non-executive director at Newcastle United as the club floated on the stock exchange in April 1997.

    It was less than a year later that the Toongate scandal broke and, going public for the first time, Cassidy claims in his book he led calls for Shepherd and Hall to be axed.

    He says: “A wave of shock and anger was sweeping through Tyneside and the boardroom was no different when I firmly recommended what action must be taken.

    “I was seriously unpopular with my colleagues on the board as a result, for a variety of reasons. Sir Terry Harrison, the chairman, said ‘you had no right to act in such a way – you aren’t the chairman, I am’.

    “Freddy, the culprit, exploded ‘don’t you ******* moralise at me and Sir John stated ‘you can’t force people who own the club to resign’.”

    A few days after the scandal broke, Shepherd and Douglas Hall both stepped down from the board.

    Denis Cassidy
    In July 1998, Cassidy was appointed non-executive chairman of the plc but less than a fortnight after that, the club announced the pair were returning as chairman and vice-chairman respectively.

    Three days later, they wrote an apology to all season ticket holders for what had happened.

    Shepherd and Hall returned to the main board in December 1998, at which point Cassidy resigned.

    It later emerged he received £80,000 when he left St James’s Park, along with non-executive directors Tom Fenton and John Joseph.

    In June 2002, Cassidy joined forces with former Magpies chief executive Freddie Fletcher to launch a failed takeover bid for Leicester City.

    Fletcher himself received a £532,000 package when he resigned from United in 2000.

    Cassidy says by publishing his book, he is offering “informed criticism” of the way United has been run, “not just as an insider but as a Geordie and a fan who gets terribly wounded by things.”

    But Shepherd has hit out at the fact he is also providing a commentary of goings-on at the Toon long after he resigned.

    He said: “Many of the events referred to in this book took place long after Denis was at the club and I find it difficult to understand how he can claim to have an insight into what happened.”

    Cassidy has previously written book The Way Things Were – a Backstreet Boyhood, which was published in 2005 and had its foreword penned by Sir Bobby Robson.

    He will be signing copies of his latest publication in Newcastle on Saturday, ahead of the Toon’s clash with Blackpool.

  • Thump

    May 19, 2014 at 7:03 AM

    Comment #25

    @Cyprus: And anyway, he can’t afford the club, never mind investing in new players etc.

    One of the few times I’m glad for Ashley’s “loans”, mate.

  • Thump

    May 19, 2014 at 7:06 AM

    Comment #26

    Uh… so the club is out of FFS’s reach, I mean*

  • Charlie in the Gallowgate

    May 19, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    Comment #27

    No No No
    Don’t let the Fat **** near the club – we were turning into a basket case when he was in charge loosing millions yet his family were still taking their dividend…..

    Dividends paid by Newcastle United plc to shareholders 1998-2005

    Total to Halls: £13,698,280

    Total to Shepherds: £5,489,239

    Salary packages paid

    Year Hall Shepherd

    1999 £23,533 £23,533

    2000 £35,000 £75,000

    2001 £110,000 £232,868

    2002 £524,257 £591,639

    2003 £591,667 £668,920

    2004 £635,465 £717,145

    2005 £495,951 £552,954

    Total £2,415,873 £2,862,059

    Totals made from Newcastle United 1999 to 2005

    Sir John, Douglas and Cameron Hall: £36,466,153

    Freddy Shepherd and Shepherd Offshore: £ 8,351,298

    Total £44,817,451

    Figures compiled with assistance of Ian Ferguson from

    Totals made from Newcastle United in a 6 year period

    Sir John, Douglas and Cameron Hall: £36,466,153

    Freddy Shepherd and Shepherd Offshore: £ 8,351,298

    Total £44,817,451
    That equals over &7 million per year


    In summary what Shepherd left was a club that was losing over £30m a year, had debts of £70m, had no assets they could borrow more money against, and had a set of players on long, lucrative contracts. Ashley can get rid of the debt but the £30m annual losses with over paid players will take longer to sort out.

  • Spoof

    May 19, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    Comment #28

    and what do we have now, any asset is sold without reinvestment and a debt much larger than the £65m which Freddie Shepherd ran up ?

  • Slank

    May 19, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    Comment #29

    Hall and particularly Shepherd played on Geordie sentimentality and xenophobia by saying they were just local lads like all those through the turnstiles and only wanted what was best for the club they loved. Absolute tripe.

    They loved money, other people’s money. They and their families robbed the club and the loyal fans who came through the turnstiles.

    They were cynical thieving cheats and had little or no regard for Geordies in general and Newcastle United supporters in particular.

  • The next Mike Williamson

    May 19, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Comment #30

    FS didn’t have a clue. The only good thing he did was accept Bobby Robson’s offer to manage us. But even Mike Ashley would have done that; it was a no-brainer.

  • spitfire_

    May 19, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    Comment #31


    He didn’t double the debt? When he bought the club, the debt was around 75-76 mill. Now it’s 129 mill but at some point was around 141 mill. The club may isn’t in debt to some bank but it’s in debt to Ashley. The debt is a debt. He double it and it’s a fact. Removing the interest doesn’t made the debt to disappear. It’s 129 mill which is around 50 mill more than 7 years ago.

  • terencelim

    May 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    Comment #32

    A Big NO. The worst thing about FS is that he could sell the club to someone WORSE.


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