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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Hall defends Newcastle share sale
Sir John Hall
Hall admitted he had "run out of ideas a bit"
Sir John Hall insists billionnaire businessman Mike Ashley is the right man to take Newcastle forward.

Hall, 74, sold his 41.6% stake in the club on Wednesday as Ashley stepped up his takeover bid.

"We've had quite a few people come to us, but many of them weren't right," Hall told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"I feel Ashley and his team are right. He'll take us to a new dimension. I'm certain he'll be good for the club or I wouldn't have sold to him."

Ashley purchased the Hall family's stake for 55m with the ultimate aim of clinching a complete 133.1m buy-out of chairman Freddy Shepherd and the remaining shareholders.

We probably ran out of ideas a bit. There's no room for old men. I've got a lot of experience but it's a young man's game

Sir John Hall

Shepherd, who has a 29.8% stake in the club, is thought to be shocked by recent events, but Hall has backed Ashley - who made his fortune through sportswear firm Sports World.

"He knows the passion of the fans, he knows how much it means on Tyneside," Hall said.

"I've talked to him enough to be assured they've got the passion for the club as we all have.

"You can't run a club without being attached to it. You can't run a club without feeling for it because it is about people, it's about the passion of the people.

"He knows the supporters are passionate."

Shepherd and the Newcastle board are due to meet shortly to consider Ashley's offer of 100p per share.

Ashley needs a 50% share to take control of the club, including who sits on the board
That means Shepherd could lose control of the club even if he does not sell his 29% stake
Ashley needs Shepherd's shares in order to reach the 75% required to delist the club from the Stock Exchange

If Ashley manages to buy more than 50% of shares, he will have day-to-day control of the club and if he gets to 75%, he will be able to delist the club from the Stock Exchange.

Hall will remain involved at St James' Park as life president but admitted the time was right for him to step aside.

He said: "I think I've done the best thing but one can never tell. I'm 74 now and for some time I've felt the family need to take a new direction.

"It's been known we've wanted to sell our shares and move on to other things.

"We probably ran out of ideas a bit. You've got to make changes every now and again.

"There's no room for old men. I've got a lot of experience but it's a young man's game."

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