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Toon fans vent their frustration at Ashley

Thousands of Newcastle fans turned out to voice their support for Kevin Keegan before Saturday afternoon's Premier League clash with Hull City.

Supporters started to gather at the Milburn entrance to St James' Park long before kick-off, and were joined shortly before 2pm by a black and white throng as a series of organised marches converged on the stadium.

The mood was one of defiance as they chanted for Keegan and against club owner Mike Ashley and executive director (football) Dennis Wise.

Many carried placards bearing the message "No more Geordie cash for Ashley" - a reference to a call for people to boycott Ashley's Sports Direct stores and the club's retail outlets.

Banners included "Ashley is a Mackem", "Ashley and Gang out" and a series of "Wanted" posters, while some protesters wore T-shirts saying "Ashley and the Wise guy out" and "Ashley not so Wise, sack the Board".

Mounted police moved in in an attempt to disperse the gathering crowds, while journalists were also moved on by officers and club stewards, a response which simply caused the mood to darken.

Ironically, the scene came as it emerged that talks between Ashley and Keegan, which caused a sensation on Tyneside last night, are ongoing.

PA Sport understands the two men are still in discussion over a possible way forward more than a week after the 57-year-old tendered his resignation.

However, the problems which prompted his departure - a lack of control of player acquisitions and disposals and the the roles of Wise and vice-president (player recruitment) Tony Jimenez - remain unresolved.

The initial talks broke up yesterday without a way forward having been identified, although while hope may have dwindled, at least some remains that progress could be made.

However, Newcastle have done much of the groundwork on several of their targets to replace Keegan, with Paul Ince, Gus Poyet and Didier Deschamps firmly in their sights - and that process will continue in case Keegan's return proves impossible.


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