Wednesday 23 May 2018

Former Toon chairman Shepherd, 75, dies

Freddie Shepherd
Freddie Shepherd

Alan Shearer has led the tributes to former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd following his death at the age of 75.

Shepherd engineered the £15million deal which took Shearer from Blackburn back to his native Newcastle in July 1996, and the former England striker remains grateful to this day that he did.

The Match of the Day pundit said in a Twitter post: "So sad to hear my great friend and former @NUFC chairman Freddy Shepherd has passed away. I owe him a huge debt for bringing me home. RIP."

Geordie businessman Shepherd spent 15 years as a director at St James' Park, serving under Sir John Hall as vice-chairman before eventually taking over the hot seat in his own right in 1997 and presiding over one of the most thrilling episodes in the club's modern history.

Colombian striker Faustino Asprilla, who famously scored a hat-trick in Newcastle's 3-2 Champions League win over Barcelona in 1997, tweeted: "Very sad to wake to the news about former @NUFC chairman Freddy Shepherd passing away. My condolences to his family and friends."

During Shepherd's time at Newcastle, the club twice finished as Premier League runners-up, reached two FA Cup finals and enjoyed two Champions League campaigns.

Perhaps Shepherd's most tangible achievement was the redevelopment of St James' Park from an ageing 36,000-capacity stadium to a modern venue which now holds 52,000 spectators.

Under his tenure, the Magpies came as close as they have to rekindling their glory days, although their wait for a first domestic trophy since 1955 and any major silverware since 1969 is ongoing despite the thrilling reigns of Kevin Keegan and the late Sir Bobby Robson.

Shepherd died peacefully at home on Monday evening, his family announced in a statement.

It said: "Freddy Shepherd, former chairman of Newcastle United and chairman of Shepherd Offshore Group and Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group, sadly passed away peacefully at his home last night.

"At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be respected."

Shepherd reluctantly sold his 28.01 per cent shareholding in the club to current owner Mike Ashley in June 2007 after the sportswear magnate had already bought out the Hall family.

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