Tuesday 26 May 2009 8:00 pm

Guilty Ashley issues apology for relegation ‘catastrophe’

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NEWCASTLE owner Mike Ashley last night sensationally apologised to the club’s fans for the mistakes which led to the “catastrophe” of relegation from the Premier League.

The sportswear magnate issued a club statement acknowledging the errors of his ways which contributed to the club’s losing their top-flight status after 16 years.

At the same time, Ashley also admitted that installing club legend Alan Shearer as manager for the final eight game of the season was “the best decision I have made” and confirmed that talks are on-going to lure the former England captain on a new four-year deal.

Ashley said: “Seeing Newcastle United relegated from the Premier League has been a catastrophe for us all. I fully accept that mistakes were made during this and previous seasons, and I am very sorry for that.

“I would like to say sorry to our magnificent supporters who have turned up in their thousands, home and away, up and down the country and who have given the team amazing backing throughout.

“And I would also say sorry to all of the club’s hard-working staff, who have gone about their jobs all year long. Bringing Alan Shearer back to Newcastle United was the best decision I have made. Alan and his staff did all they could to try and keep us up in the short space of time they had. Talks are now ongoing between us about how we can take this club forward again.”

Ashley arrived at the club’s Darsley Park training headquarters by helicopter yesterday afternoon and spent time locked in talks with Shearer, his assistant Iain Dowie and chief executive Derek Llambias, who earlier gave a hint as to just how badly the club wants to keep Shearer on as manager.

“We want him to be the manager 110 per cent,” he added. “He’s very good at what he does and he’s a straight-talking guy – we like that. He would be the perfect appointment.”