Former Newcastle chairman Shepherd passes away at the age of 76

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A popular figure at St James' Park, who served as Magpies chairman from 1997 to 2007, died "peacefully at his home" on Monday

Former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd died "peacefully at his home" on Monday, his family have confirmed.

Born in 1941, Shepherd, along with John Hall, helped the north-east club secure Premier League status in 1993 and was pivotal in attracting Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer to join during his time at St James' Park.

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The businessman - who was awarded the freedom of the city of Newcastle earlier this year - sold his share of the club to Mike Ashley in 2007 after a 10-year stint as chairman.

"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," the family announced in a statement.

"At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be respected and all media enquiries should be directed to Mark Whittle of Triple S Communications."

Shearer led the tributes to his "great friend" on social media, thanking Shepherd for bringing him back to his home city in 1996 for a world-record fee of £15million.

Long-serving goalkeeper Shay Given also paid tribute to a man he spent many happy years working alongside.