Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has hit back at Joey Barton after the former Magpies player claimed his departure from the Tyneside was due to a bonus dispute.
Barton joined QPR in August after being placed on the transfer list by Newcastle following a Twitter rant in which he criticised the club's board. It was reported on Tuesday that Barton went a step further by alleging he and other big-name players had been forced out of the Tyneside club after refusing to agree to a bonus proposal.
Three days after the death of former Magpies midfielder Gary Speed, Llambias blasted the timing of Barton's comments, and said in a statement: "In a week when one of Newcastle United's most beloved footballers passed away, it is disappointing that once again Joey Barton makes the headlines."
He added: "It is also unfortunate that Joey chose to draw such a disparaging comparison between himself and the employees of Sports Direct, who through hard work and dedication are the recipients of one of the most generous bonus schemes in UK retailing.
"It may not be a lot of money to Joey, but over 2,000 Sports Direct employees earning £20,000 will receive shares worth over £44,000 over the next two years.
"However, in this week of all weeks, we really do not wish to engage in a public war of words with Joey Barton.
"Our legal advisors are dealing with the matter now and we would encourage Joey to concentrate on his football at Queens Park Rangers.
"Our thoughts and attentions this week remain firmly with the family and friends of Gary Speed."