Football: TOON BLAST FOR DISTIN; SUMMER TRANSFER MARKET HOTS UP.(Sport)
Byline: BRIAN McNALLY
NEWCASTLE chairman Freddy Shepherd branded Manchester City-bound Sylvain Distin a "mercenary" last night after the French defender rejected the chance of Champions League football next season.
Shepherd, who last week tied up World Cup stars Kieron Dyer and Shay Given to long-term deals, had first refusal on the on-loan Distin after agreeing a pounds 4 million deal with Paris St Germain.
But former Magpies manager Kevin Keegan put one over his old club by tempting Distin with a pounds 1 million-a-year offer that Maine Road sources claim was almost double what Newcastle offered.
But Shepherd was unrepentant about his stance over Distin. He said: "When we brought him to England no other club was interested in him. We agreed a fee with PSG and the agreement was that we had first refusal on him.
"Distin was perfectly happy with the wages that we offered him and he had a regular place in the side.
"We were aware that one or two clubs had been alerted to his ability and were prepared to pay silly money to lure him away from Newcastle. …