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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Newcastle relegated from Premier League

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Newcastle's team of underperforming stars was relegated from the Premier League for the first time after a 1-0 defeat at Aston Villa on Sunday.

The Magpies needed to at least avoid defeat to have a chance of prolonging their 16-season stay in the top flight of English soccer, but Damien Duff deflected Gareth Barry's innocuous 38th-minute shot from 35 meters past stranded goalkeeper Steve Harper.

Just one goal would have kept Newcastle up at Hull's expense, but the Magpies failed to draw a second-half save from Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel despite finishing with three strikers up front.

Newcastle had early chances when Friedel saved from Duff and Steven Taylor had a shot blocked on the line, but could easily have conceded more and finished with 10 men after fullback David Edgar was sent off in injury time.

A season featuring four managers and ending with one win in 13 games left Newcastle with 34 points — just one fewer than 17th-place Hull.

The defeat, Alan Shearer's fifth in eight games as manager, will cost Newcastle about £40 million ($63.6 million) in revenue next season and is likely to severely affect owner Mike Ashley's attempts to sell the club.

"I can't say we were unlucky," said Shearer, who has yet to decide whether to stay for next season. "We didn't go down because of today. We went down because we weren't good enough over the 38 games. There's big changes (that) need to be made at this football club. Players need to go out and players need to come in."

Newcastle's fans stayed noisy and defiant to the end despite a largely ineffective performance and a first relegation since 1989 — three years before the introduction of the Premier League.

At the end, Shearer ran over and applauded the supporters who had idolized him during his playing career.

"I feel for them," Shearer said. "I don't think it's too much effort to thank them for their support. They love their football, they love their football club and they've been badly let down."

Thai PM speaks out

BANGKOK (AP) Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva says he will continue to support English team Newcastle, despite Alan Shearer's side being relegated from the Premier League for the first time when it lost its final game of the season.

Newcastle needed to avoid defeat Sunday to stave off relegation from the top flight of English football. Instead, Damien Duff deflected a shot past stranded goalkeeper Steve Harper for an own goal in a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.

Abhisit, sporting a tie bearing a Newcastle logo on Monday, says he watched the match and was not shocked by the result considering the team had so many injuries. He had planned to call the manager Shearer if the team won, but decided not to after the loss.

"I will continue to support the team and I believe they will make it back," Abhisit said. "I still have faith in Newcastle."

Nakamura gets offer

GLASGOW , Scotland (Kyodo) Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura on Sunday welcomed an offer from his former club, Yokohama F. Marinos, but declined to comment on what course of action he would take for next season.

"It's an honor to receive an offer from any club. It feels even better if it's from my favorite club," Nakamura said after Sunday's 0-0 draw at home to Hearts left Celtic in second place behind archrivals and newly crowned champions Rangers at the end of the 2008-09 season.

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