Keegan to sue Newcastle for £9m in contract war: Club is facing a costly battle as Toon icon claims unfair dismissal

Kevin Keegan is suing Newcastle United for £9million in damages after claiming unfair dismissal following his departure as manager last month.

The 57-year-old's second stint in charge on Tyneside ended in acrimonious circumstances after a bust-up with owner Mike Ashley. 

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Kevin Keegan
Mike Ashley

Legal moves: The dispute between former Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan (left) and owner Mike Ashley is set to head to the courts


Surprise signing: The arrival of Xisco (above) is believed to have particularly angered Keegan

Keegan has begun legal proceedings against the club demanding full payment of his three-and-a-half-year contract, according to the London Evening Standard.

It is believed Keegan claims he signed a deal to return to Newcastle on the condition that he was given total control of all first-team affairs.

But the former England boss believes Dennis Wise's role as director of football infringed upon the terms of that agreement and made his position untenable.

The transfer of striker Xisco from Deportivo on deadline day is thought to have particularly riled Keegan, who had minimal knowledge a deal would be struck.

It is unclear whether Newcastle will launch a counter claim for breach of contract, as the club declined to comment.

This latest legal wrangle marks the further deterioration of Ashley's relationship with the man who took the club from bottom of the old Second Division to Premier League runners-up and Champions League participants in his first spell in charge between 1992-97. 

The retail entrepreneur has become a hate figure in the north east following Keegan's departure, although the club issued a statement denying Keegan had been sacked. 

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A Newcastle United fan shows her support for former manager Kevin Keegan in the stands against Everton

Local hero: a Newcastle United fan shows her support for former manager Kevin Keegan in the stands against Everton

Ashley subsequently held talks with Keegan in a bid to resolve the dispute but no solution was reached and Joe Kinnear has since been appointed interim manager while the club look for new owners. 

Dubai-based investors baulked at Ashley's initial asking price, which was rumoured to be more than three times the £134m he paid for the club in 2007.

He has since dropped it to around £300m.

Chief executive of the League Managers Association Richard Bevan has hinted Keegan would be interested in a return. But Bevan said: 'The structure has to be right.'