Staff pay the price for Newcastle's relegation

THE harsh reality of life outside the top flight has struck home at Newcastle United as up 150 staff were axed.

Relegation from the Premier League has prompted owner Mike Ashley to order cost-cutting measures, with an expected 30m drop in TV rights income next season.

The job losses, all among the club's administrative and commercial staff, account for about a third of the entire off-pitch workforce.

Operations director David Williamson is one of the most high-profile redundancies. The former Newcastle Racecourse director only joined after owner Mike Ashley bought the club in 2008.

The cuts include full-time and part-time staff. Recently-signed coach Colin Calderwood has also been interviewed for the manager's job at League Two Chesterfield.

Most of those departing were warned in advance that the loss of Premier League status would put their jobs at risk.

The announcement was made last Thursday, and paperwork was completed the following day.

According to their last published financial report, the club's annual turnover of 100m includes a wage-bill of 74m.

Some football analysts said the figures were close to unsustainable even in the Premier League.

The drop to the Championship meant the figures looked even more unrealistic.

If he signs up to be managed next season, Alan Shearer is expected to see an exodus of high-earning players.

Michael Owen and Mark Viduka are out of contract and are set to leave, and Joey Barton is likely to follow.

When Sunderland dropped to the Championship in 2003, 83 office-based staff were made redundant.

Middlesbrough are also expected to shed similarly high numbers off its off field workforce.

Shearer is reported to have requested a guaranteed transfer pot of around 15m to fund Newcastle's promotion bid.