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Newcastle deny Keegan sacking

September 03, 2008 10:36 IST

Newcastle United said on Tuesday Kevin Keegan was still their manager after a day of speculation that he had been sacked after just eight months in the job.

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Thousands of angry fans flocked to the club's St James' Park ground in the city centre after word spread that "King Kev", as Newcastle fans affectionately call him, had either been sacked or had resigned as the club's boss.

However in a statement on their official website (www.nufc.premiumtv.co.uk), Newcastle said Keegan was still in charge.

"Kevin has raised a number of issues and these have been discussed with him," the statement said.

"The club wants to keep progressing with its long term strategy and would like to stress that Kevin is extremly important both now and in the future.

"Newcastle United values the effort and commitment shown by Kevin since his return to St James' Park and want him to continue to play an instrumental role as manager of the club.

"For the avoidance of doubt the club has not sacked Kevin Keegan as their manager."

Neither Keegan, 57, or the club itself made any official comment on the speculation until early in the evening.

But many fans e-mailed news organisations saying they would boycott the club if he went and called for the board, led by billionaire chairman Mike Ashley to resign. Hastily-made banners carried the same message.

Keegan returned to Newcastle as manager in January, 11 years after his sudden departure from the job in January 1997, and has been in control for only 21 matches, winning just six times.

Newcastle have made a decent start to the new season, winning one, drawing one and losing one of their opening three league matches and are sitting comfortably in mid-table with four points. They also beat Championship (second division) club Coventry City away in the League Cup last week.

Keegan was hailed as the club's saviour when he returned to St James' Park after they parted company with Sam Allardyce, who himself had only been in charge for half a season.

However, Keegan had a difficult start, failing to win any of his opening eight league matches.

More recently, some of his diehard fans criticised his support of midfielder Joey Barton, who Keegan backed last month following his release from a prison sentence for assault.

With domestic action making way this weekend for a round of World Cup qualifiers, Newcastle's next match is against Hull City at St James' Park on Sept. 13.


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