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By ESPN Staff

Ashley must think again as Keegan walks

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was today going back to the drawing board with his dream for the club in tatters in the wake of Kevin Keegan's resignation.

The billionaire sent Tyneside into raptures in January when, against all odds, he persuaded Keegan to manage the club for a second time.

Eight months on, Gallowgate is shrouded in storm clouds once again after Keegan announced his resignation last night citing interference from the board after a dramatic three days at St James' Park.

Rumours initially surfaced on Monday morning that the 57-year-old had left his post, only to be followed by statements from both sides insisting that was not the case.

However, the split was confirmed unilaterally by Keegan in a statement released on his behalf by the League Managers' Association.

In it, he said: 'I have been working desperately hard to find a way forward with the directors, but sadly that has not proved possible.

'It's my opinion that a manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want.

'It remains my fervent wish to see Newcastle United do well in the future and I feel incredibly sorry for the players, staff and most importantly the supporters.

'I have been left with no choice other than to leave.'

The LMA confirmed Keegan had taken his decision after receiving a letter from Newcastle's managing director, Derek Llambias, who succeeded former chairman Chris Mort at the helm earlier this year.

Llambias had been a key figure in the talks, which took place on both Monday and Tuesday after the manager expressed his concerns over the way the club were conducting their summer transfer business.

Keegan was furious to discover members of his already slim squad had been offered for sale during the final hours of the transfer window after he had reluctantly accepted James Milner's £12million departure to Aston Villa.

But having assured the club's fans he expected to recruit three or four top-quality signings by the time the deadline passed, he was left with only Spanish striker Xisco and loan signing Ignacio Gonzalez to add to earlier arrivals Jonas Gutierrez, Fabricio Coloccini, and Danny Guthrie, and that went nowhere near to meeting his expectations.

The club had been adamant over the previous 48 hours or so their manager had neither resigned nor been sacked, but talks aimed at reaching a solution seemed doomed from the start.

Their reaction last night was one of sadness and disappointment.

A statement said: 'Newcastle United Football Club is sad and disappointed that Kevin Keegan has resigned.

'Over the last few days, the club has devoted itself to the discussions it has held with Kevin and as a result of those discussions, had put together a set of practical suggestions for how to move forward.

'Today, the club made it clear to Kevin that if he had any outstanding concerns on its proposals, he should raise them with the club.

'The club regrets that Kevin has, instead of taking up that offer, chosen to resign.'

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