Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time for Shepherd to Think of Others

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Time for Shepherd to Think of Others

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Through the good times and the bad, the ups and the downs, and for all the rights and the wrongs, one thing has remained constant during the last decade at St James's Park.

In all that he has done during his colourful chairmanship, Freddie Shepherd has been steadfast in his assertion that he has always acted in Newcastle United's best interests. As his long reign nears an inevitable end, the time has arrived for such claims to be backed up.

Stick or twist? Fight or flee? Shepherd is weighing up his most difficult decision yet. Love him or loath him, forgiveness will prove elusive should he get this wrong.

He might not want to sell his 29.8% stake in the club, but it increasingly appears that to do so would be in the club's best interests given the last week's dramatic events. What he does during the coming days and weeks will define what it is his eventful tenure is remembered for most.

Will he be recalled as the man perceived to have stood in the way of progress? The man who blocked an exciting era from unfolding? The man blamed for ruining Newcastle's best chance to break a long-running silverware curse? Should he attempt to make Mike Ashley's life difficult that is the risk he will take, whatever his motives might be.

Shepherd cannot be compelled to sell and he is well within his rights to retain his interest in the club. That does not necessarily make it the right thing to do if Newcastle's best interests are at heart.

What the club needs is significant investment, fresh ideas and different direction. What it doesn't need are boardroom splits, share wars or protracted battles for ownership.

The latter situation would prove a distraction at a club that cannot afford to lose focus. This is a situation that requires a prompt resolution. For that to happen, there can be just one outcome. A clean break is needed.

Ashley's insistence that the episode will not hamper Sam Allardyce's quest to succeed in his first season in charge is admirable, yet unless he gains the full control he craves, the billionaire's blueprint for a brighter future cannot progress as planned. …

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