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Crystal Palace
By ESPN Staff

Mort reassures Keegan over Wise move

Newcastle chairman Chris Mort insists manager Kevin Keegan will not be undermined by Dennis Wise's arrival on Tyneside.

Mort confirmed today that 41-year-old Wise has agreed to take up the role of executive director (football) at St James' Park as the Magpies made three senior appointments.

Businessman Tony Jimenez and former Real Madrid international scout Jeff Vetere will also join the club as vice-president (player recruitment) and technical co-ordinator respectively.

Wise's appointment in particular had led to speculation that Keegan - who has failed with a verbal bid for Derby midfielder Giles Barnes - could find himself working in the shadow of a manager in waiting.

However, Mort was quick to dismiss the suggestion, confirming that Wise would have no day-to-day involvement with the playing squad, but would instead concentrate on assisting the Board on football matters, including player recruitment and the development of the Academy.

He said: 'This is all part of the vision that recently helped us to secure Kevin Keegan's return to the club as manager.

'Two of the conclusions of our strategic review, since acquiring the club, were that the club would benefit from having a football person involved at Board level, which it has not had historically, and that further senior resources are needed for recruiting players of the highest quality from this country and further afield.

'Dennis would like to move away from day-to-day football management to a Board role and, with his considerable energy and intelligence, we believe he will do very well in this new position.

'With Kevin able to devote his efforts to developing and running the first-team squad, Dennis, Tony and Jeff will each help us to secure success for Newcastle United Football Club at all levels and for the long-term.

'One or two further key appointments will follow in the months ahead.'

Today's announcement represents the latest phase of owner Mike Ashley's efforts to restructure the club he bought in a £134.4million takeover last summer.

He swiftly installed Mort as his chairman and fellow director Steve Hayward with Freddy Shepherd later finally severing his ties and following the bulk of his Board out of the club.

Mort's initial task was to carry out a strategic review of the club at all levels, and the events of the last few weeks are evidence that the blueprint he and Ashley have drawn up is now being implemented.

Sam Allardyce's departure and Keegan's subsequent arrival earlier this month came as failings on the pitch were addressed, and now the Magpies have moved to provide furthher back-up to the manager, his staff and the players off it.

News of Wise's imminent arrival emerged yesterday with Leeds confirming they had agreed a compensation package with Newcastle.

Keegan, however, declined to comment on the reports, prompting suggestions that he was unaware of the situation and could find himself under pressure from within.

However, Mort has attempted to head off the conspiracy theories by insisting the roles in which the two men have been employed will complement each other rather than force them into potential conflict.

Keegan inherited a coaching staff of around 20 from Allardyce and has held talks with former striker Alan Shearer over his own return to St James', although both men are adamant that if the answer is in the affirmative, it will not be as number two.