Newcastle owner Ashley takes club off market

LONDON - Premier League club Newcastle United was taken off the market by owner Mike Ashley on Sunday.

Ashley, who made his fortune in sportswear, put the club up for sale three months ago after saying he could no longer attend home matches because of abuse from fans.

A statement on the club's official website said there had been interest but Ashley had decided to stay and support manager Joe Kinnear.

"I have withdrawn Newcastle United from the market and for me 2009 will be the year in which we drive the club forward together," Ashley told the website.

Ashley completed his takeover of the club in July 2007 for £134 million and often sat with fans during club matches wearing a replica shirt.

However he fell foul of the fans in September after the popular Kevin Keegan quit as manager saying he did not have full control over the buying and selling of players.