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Last Updated: Monday, 29 November, 2004, 18:06 GMT
Shepherd denounces Man Utd set-up
Freddy Shepherd
Shepherd insists he is a Newcastle fan first and foremost
Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has insisted Manchester United have lost their way both on and off the field.

Shepherd pointed to the exit of ex-chairman Martin Edwards, saying the club "was like a ship without a sail".

And he said the major shareholders - John Magnier, JP McManus and American Malcolm Glazer - were only interested in the club for financial reasons.

Shepherd said: "I met Magnier in February playing golf and he said he was there purely as an investor."

Speaking at the annual Soccerex conference in Dubai, Shepherd added: "Over the last two years they have lost a bit of stardust.

Both of us are fans through and through and we've never sold a share
Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd

"First they lost the captain of the ship in Martin Edwards, then they suffered from losing David Beckham. They lost two characters there."

Shepherd insisted he and fellow major shareholder Douglas Hall would never do the same at St James' Park.

He said: "Both of us are fans through and through and we've never sold a share.

"We've spent 300m in the last 10 years and we run the club as a business but at the end of the day we are fans."

Shepherd also blamed Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich for pushing up transfer fees to exorbitant levels.

He added: "Abramovich has blown the transfer market wide open. There is one market for him and one for the rest of us.

"We were getting fees down to a sensible level before he came along. But don't get me wrong, I wish we had a Geordie Abramovich."

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