Ashley begins manager search
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has launched the search for a new manager with Alan Pardew's departure for Crystal Palace imminent.
The sportswear tycoon, currently on holiday in Barbados, had already put the wheels in motion amid fevered speculation over the identity of the seventh permanent boss to occupy the St James' Park hot-seat during his seven and a half year reign to date.
Many of the names thrown up by the rumour mill have already been discounted by sources on Tyneside with current skipper Fabricio Coloccini and former York boss Nigel Worthington at the top of that list, while former Palace manager Tony Pulis and Tottenham counterpart Tim Sherwood are also understood not to be in the running.
Managing director Lee Charnley is the man conducting the search on Ashley's behalf, although the club is unlikely to make a snap decision and Press Association Sport understands Pardew's assistant John Carver and first-team coach Steve Stone will take care of team affairs for Thursday's Barclays Premier League fixture against Burnley and the FA Cup third round trip to Leicester two days later.
Carver, who will be without striker Papiss Cisse for three games after he accepted a Football Association violent conduct charge for elbowing Everton defender Seamus Coleman on Sunday, could be considered an outside candidate for the job on a permanent basis, although current Hull manager and fellow Geordie Steve Bruce may have stronger claims.
There has been popular support for the club's football development manager Peter Beardsley, while St-Etienne boss Christophe Galtier has been linked with the club on several occasions.
However, Ajax manager Frank de Boer has ruled himself out and Ashley's unwillingness to pay compensation makes a move for Derby's Steve McClaren, who signed a three-year deal in August, unlikely.
But what is clear is that Newcastle are unlikely to deviate from the club's established masterplan as they look for a way forward, and whoever slips into Pardew's shoes will have to buy into the same model under which he has operated during his time at the club.
That blueprint, which involves recruiting players with potential, developing them and selling them at a profit, as the club did with Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Debuchy, is managed by chief scout Graham Carr, who like the manager, was handed an eight-year contract back in 2012, and he is likely to have a significant influence in identifying the number one choice.
Reports have suggested that Pardew decided to call it a day after being told there would not be significant investment in the squad during the forthcoming transfer window, and fearing that key players, midfielder Moussa Sissoko among them, could be sold next month.
But it is understood that he had been given assurances that the Magpies would remain "extremely strong" on that front and would not be allowing the likes of the France international, who has been linked with Paris St Germain and Arsenal, to leave in January.
The Magpies sit in 10th place in the table after their 3-2 win over Everton, two places better off then they were when Pardew arrived in December 2010 as a hugely controversial replacement for Chris Hughton.
What has transpired since has been eventful to say the least with the Londoner having ridden out a series of storms on and off the pitch, with Ashley repeatedly selling his best players from under him and not replacing them in the short term, but showing commendable support - other than his ill-fated decision to parachute in Joe Kinnear as director of football - in the face of fierce criticism from a vocal section of the club's own support.
His exit will bring an end to a difficult period in his managerial career, but the repercussions could prove equally intriguing back as Tyneside awaits developments.