Newcastle U23s boss Peter Beardsley given leave amid bullying probe
Newcastle Under-23s coach Peter Beardsley has "categorically" denied allegations of bullying and racism after agreeing to take leave while they are investigated.
In a statement issued through his solicitors, the 56-year-old former Magpies and England star has protested his innocence as he fights to clear his name.
The statement said: "Peter Beardsley is aware of inaccurate media reports which result from unauthorised leaks. Allegations of unfair treatment have been made, which are currently being investigated.
"Peter Beardsley categorically denies the allegations. It is hoped the investigation will conclude quickly.
"Peter Beardsley will not be making any further comment at the present time and until investigations conclude. Peter respectfully request that his privacy and that of his family is respected."
The denial was issued shortly after the club revealed that Beardsley would be taking a period of leave while the investigation continues.
A Newcastle statement said: "After discussions with Peter Beardsley this morning, it has been agreed that he will take a period of leave, to commence immediately, whilst the club conducts its investigation into allegations made against him.
"It would be inappropriate for the club to comment further until the conclusion of this investigation."
Beardsley was questioned about the allegations during a lengthy meeting with managing director Lee Charnley and head of safeguarding Steve Swinyard on Monday, and the complainants are due to give their evidence later this week.
The Magpies confirmed at the weekend that they had launched an investigation after a formal complaint of bullying was made by 22-year-old midfielder Yasin Ben El-Mhanni, backed by several teammates. It later emerged that accusations had also been made by other players.
Beardsley, who made more than 300 appearances for Newcastle in two spells as a player, is currently in his second period as an academy coach with the club.
In 2003, he and academy director Kenny Wharton were cleared of bullying by a Premier League inquiry.