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Toon suffer more woe with £10m loyalty payments

Newcastle United's players are reportedly set to share a £10m bonus despite their disastrous relegation campaign and some could be heading into the Championship on an increased salary thanks to annual loyalty payments.

The Daily Mail have claimed that a glaring oversight by club executives means beleaguered owner Mike Ashley is committed to paying his players massive 'bonuses' at the end of this month, less than six weeks after their relegation from the Premier League.

With senior figures such as Michael Owen and Mark Viduka due loyalty payments believed to be in the region of £400,000, the overall bill is reported to be around £10m.

The owner has until June 30 to find a buyer for the club if he wants to avoid another dent in his personal fortune, after it was alleged that he made no provision for relegation in any contract negotiations.

Newcastle have agreed deals in the last year or so entitling players to annual rises, no matter what, including Brazilian flop Cacapa and bad-boy Joey Barton and long-suffering Toon fans are sure to be angered by yet another PR nightmare for the St James's Park outfit.

With the selling of the club taking longer than expected, Ashley has been accused of giving Newcastle's rivals a head start in preparing for the new season and is also no closer to bringing manager Alan Shearer in on a permanent deal.

The club are also set for another financial blow, with instalments due on the transfer fees they agreed for Damien Duff, a £5m buy from Chelsea three years ago, and former Inter Milan striker Obafemi Martins, who was signed for £10.1m in the summer of 2006.

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