Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Saturday, 13 September 2008 18:35 UK

Magpies fans protest over Ashley


Fans call for King Kev's return

Thousands of Newcastle United fans continued their protest against owner Mike Ashley after the Magpies' 2-1 loss to Hull City.

Fans again thronged outside St James' Park to chant "sack the board" and "Ashley Out" in a repeat of scenes witnessed before kick-off.

Supporters are angry over the claims that manager Kevin Keegan was undermined leading to his resignation.

Anti-Ashley banners were unfurled inside the stadium during the game.

Seats in the directors' box usually filled by owner Ashley and director of football Dennis Wise were vacant.

Fans outside the Milburn stand
Marching fans displayed "Ashley Out" banners

Only chairman Derek Llambias could be seen representing the club's management within the stadium.

A standing ovation was given to three supporters who paraded around the stands with a "Cockney mafia out" banner, a reference to the board's London connections.

Despite calls for a boycott of the game in the immediate aftermath of Keegan's departure the official attendance was 50,242.

Surprise talks between Ashley and Keegan on Friday failed to reach a "satisfactory conclusion".

The League Managers' Association, which is in contact with Keegan, said the talks covered several issues.

It is unclear whether the meeting was primarily to discuss a possible return or negotiate terms of Keegan's exit.

It's our club, not Mike Ashley's club, he might own it but it's not his club
Steve Hastie, Newcastle fan

As kick-off approached police in high visibility jackets struggled to control the surging crowd in a noisy but peaceful protest.

Supporter Vince Kelly, 61, said he was moved by the passionate display from fans outside the stadium.

He said: "I've never seen anything like this in all my life, it's marvellous.

"We have just lost our Messiah and Ashley and the London mob have to understand this.

"Not one of them have had the guts to come out and tell us what is going on."

Many fans said the news of talks between Keegan and the owner had not lifted the mood of anger.

'Treated with contempt'

Members of unfurled a 20ft protest banner showing images of Ashley and director of football Dennis Wise next to the slogan "wanted for crimes against Newcastle United".

Forum contributor Steve Hastie said: "We can protest as much as we like, we've done it time and time again with past directors and owners of clubs, but we want people to visualise how we feel.

"We want people to appreciate how we feel about the club, it's our club, not Mike Ashley's club, he might own it but it's not his club."

Fan holding banner
Director of football Dennis Wise has also been heavily criticised

Paul Wilson, a supporter of 40 years, added: "The way we've been treated with contempt in the last few weeks is incredible, it really is."

The Talk of the Tyne fanzine led a march of hundreds of fans from a city centre bar to St James' Park as the game was in progress.

Northumbria Police have said extra officers were on duty and urged fans to vent their frustration peacefully.

Officers had spoken to fans' groups who were planning marches to make them aware of the laws surrounding demonstrations.

Owner Ashley, who bought the club in May last year, had been advised to reassess his personal security arrangements if he had decided to attend Saturday's game.

Director of football Dennis Wise has also been heavily criticised by fans following the resignation of Keegan, who ended his second spell as Newcastle manager citing interference in transfer policy.

Newcastle United has previously stated that Keegan was "allowed to manage his duties without any interference".

Keegan resigned on 4 September after three days of discussions with the club's board.

Keegan & Ashley in surprise talks
12 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Newcastle 1-2 Hull
13 Sep 08 |  Premier League
Magpies hit back at Keegan claims
06 Sep 08 |  Newcastle
Keegan resigns as Newcastle boss
04 Sep 08 |  Newcastle

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