FREDDY Shepherd, the former Newcastle United chairman has died, aged 76, his family has announced.

A pivotal figure in the St James' Park club's rise during the 1990s, he
was chairman for ten years from 1997.

Mr Shepherd eventually sold his share of the club to Mike Ashley and recently, along with brother Bruce, was granted the freedom of the city of Newcastle.

In a statement, his family said: “Freddy Shepherd, former chairman of Newcastle United and chairman of Shepherd Offshore Group and Triple S Sports & Entertainment Group, sadly passed away peacefully at his home last night.

“At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be

Born and bred in the North-East, Shepherd was the owner and managing
director of the Shepherd Offshore Group for more than 40 years.
He set up the Triple S group in 2008 but is best known for his
influential role at Newcastle.

A director of the Magpies from 1992 until 2007, Shepherd served as
vice-chairman to Sir John Hall as the club finished Premier League
runners-up in both 1996 and 1997, playing a key role in signing Alan
Shearer from Blackburn for a world-record GBP15million.

The former Newcastle striker posted on Twitter. "So sad to hear my great
friend and former @NUFC chairman Freddy Shepherd has passed away. I owe him a huge debt for bringing me home.”

Mr Shepherd became Newcastle chairman in 1997 and oversaw several
dalliances with the Champions League, while his decision to appoint Sir
Bobby Robson saw United finish as high as third in 2003.
After hearing news of his death Sir Bobby’s widow, Lady Elsie, said: “We’re very sad to hear the news about Freddy. 

“Our thoughts and sympathy are with his wife and family.”

Mr Shepherd, unable to lead Newcastle to major success during an eventful decade as chairman, eventually sold his 28.01 per cent stake of the Premier League club to Ashley in June 2007.

Having relinquished his shareholding for more than £37 million, he was
replaced as chairman by Chris Mort the following month.

Upon leaving the club, Shepherd said: "I have had a great 15 years on
the board, ten of them as chairman and I have enjoyed every minute.
"It has been a great privilege and honour to have been chairman and I
would not have missed it for the world.

"We have had some really exciting times and I like to think we have
achieved a lot since 1992 when we took over the club.

"But it was the right time for me to stand down. And in any case, once
the club was delisted, my position as chairman of the PLC became

"I gave it my best shot and I could not really have done any more."

Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley, who worked under Shepherd, paid tribute to a "driving force".

He said: "I was deeply saddened to learn of Freddy's passing today. He was an incredibly passionate supporter of Newcastle United and maintained that love for the club even after he stood down as chairman.

"During his time at the club as both a director and chairman, he had a big part to play in the club's modern-day history and was a driving force in the redevelopment of our stadium and expanding its capacity to more than 52,000.

"He had a huge passion not just for the club, but for the city and region it represents.

"Our thoughts at this time are of course with his family and friends."