Ashley threat was 'tongue in cheek'
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has denied he was being serious in saying manager Alan Pardew could lose his job if the Magpies lose to Stoke on Monday.
The Independent newspaper reports that the comments concerning Pardew's future were made in conversation with one of its reporters, with a lawyer for Ashley later stressing they were intended as a joke.
"He's got one more game," Ashley was quoted as saying. "If we lose against Stoke on Monday night then he's gone. I have had enough.
"Dead. Finished. Over. One more game then that's it."
According to the newspaper, which said the discussion was held outside a London pub, Ashley added: "That's all I'm prepared to say about it and now that I've said it, it's out there. You can do what you want with it. There's only so much I can take."
The same report quoted a lawyer for Ashley, who said the billionaire owner of retail chain Sports Direct was humouring the reporter. Ashley has rarely discussed Newcastle affairs in public during his tenure.
"Mr Ashley responded, tongue in cheek, that Mr Pardew had two more games before being sacked," the lawyer was reported as saying.
"To put this into perspective, over the past few weeks certain reporters have stated that they believe that Mr Pardew has two more games before being sacked. Mr Ashley was therefore 'humouring' your reporter."
Pardew is two years into an eight-year contract with Newcastle, who currently prop up the Barclays Premier League table after a winless start to the season.