NEWCASTLE United expect to discover later today whether they have to make a multi-million pound payment to former manager Kevin Keegan.
Keegan is seeking damages of around £9m for constructive dismissal following his controversial departure in September 2008, although United owner Mike Ashley has counter-sued for breach of contract.
An FA arbitration panel is now due to deliver its verdict.
The panel heard statements from both sides over a two-week period last month, but refused to rule on the matter until it had been given time to consider all of the evidence presented. Keegan claims he was forced to quit as he did not have any control over transfer policy, while Ashley insists he had agreed to work as part of a specific management team, which spread responsibility in this area to include former head of recruitment Tony Jimenez and executive director (football) Dennis Wise.
Reports last week stating that Keegan was seeking as much as £25m in a settlement are incorrect and the resolution of the saga should come as a relief to supporters, whatever decision is reached.
The Journal understands takeover negotiations – already painstakingly slow – have ground to a halt this week, largely because of the unease caused by the size of Keegan’s compensation claim which, it was suggested in some media circles, would force Ashley to put the club into administration.
As a result, the interested parties have decided to wait until the dispute has been resolved in order to consider the full consequences of any settlement.
Meanwhile, one of the signings Keegan did approve of, Jonás Gutiérrez, has declared he must have a bigger impact on United games this season.
The Argentina international has flattered to deceive at times on Tyneside.
Although supporters cannot question his work rate, there has often been a lack of end product from the former Real Mallorca star.
He said: “I know that I must do much better and that is certainly my aim. I want to create more for the team and score some goals – it’s what I’m trying to do every game.
“Against QPR it was very frustrating for us, but it was good to be back out there. I want to be on the pitch for every game. It was a hard a game – they came here and played well and made it difficult for us, but I think in the second half we could have won it.
“We will have more tough games to come and we must be on top of our game. If we are, then we have a great chance of beating anybody.”