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Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has passed away

Shepherd (centre) attends a Newcastle game with the late Sir Bobby Robson in 2007. Credit: PA

Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has died, his family has announced. He was 76.

A pivotal figure in the St James' Park club's rise during the 1990s, he was chairman for 10 years from 1997.

Shepherd eventually sold his share of the club to Mike Ashley and recently, along with brother Bruce, was granted the freedom of the city of Newcastle.

"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," his family said in a statement.

"At this difficult time the family have asked that their privacy be respected."

Born and bred in the north east, Shepherd was the owner and managing director of the Shepherd Offshore Group for more than 40 years.

He set up the Triple S group in 2008 but is best known for his influential role at Newcastle.

A director of the Magpies from 1992 until 2007, Shepherd served as vice-chairman to Sir John Hall as the club finished Premier League runners-up in both 1996 and 1997, playing a key role in signing Alan Shearer from Blackburn for a world-record £15million.

The former Newcastle striker posted on Twitter. "So sad to hear my great friend and former @NUFC chairman Freddy Shepherd has passed away. I owe him a huge debt for bringing me home. RIP"

Shepherd became Newcastle chairman in 1997 and oversaw several dalliances with the Champions League, while his decision to appoint Sir Bobby Robson saw United finish as high as third in 2003.

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly replaces Daniil Kvyat for the Malaysian Grand Prix

Pierre Gasly will make his Formula One debut at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. Credit: PA

Pierre Gasly will make his Formula One debut with Toro Rosso at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The 21-year-old Frenchman has been given an opportunity due to the poor performances of the team's Russian driver Daniil Kvyat.

According to Toro Rosso, Gasly will replace Kvyat "for the next Grands Prix".

"For a variety of reasons, some of them due to technical problems, but others being mistakes of his own making, Daniil Kvyat has not really shown his true potential so far this year, which is why we are standing him down for the next races," team principal Franz Tost told Toro Rosso's official website.

"This will give us the opportunity to evaluate Pierre on track during a proper race weekend."

Gasly, one of the Red Bull junior programme drivers, has been racing in Japan this year in the Super Formula category.

His F1 chance comes after 23-year-old Kvyat struggled to impress this season, scoring just four points from 14 races.

Gasly said: "This is a great opportunity for me.

"I feel as ready as I can be, having had to be prepared for anything in my role as Red Bull Racing's third driver this year.

"I will do my best to perform well with Scuderia Toro Rosso during these coming races."

Despite dropping Kvyat, Toro Rosso insist the driver still has a future with the team.

"This is not a case of goodbye for our Daniil, as he still remains part of the Red Bull family," they added.

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Gareth Barry is now the Premier League record appearance holder

Gareth Barry broke Ryan Giggs' Premier League appearance record Credit: PA

Aged 36, West Brom midfielder Barry set a new Premier League appearance record, breaking that previously held by Ryan Giggs, and Pulis said of his captain for the evening: "Gareth has been a wonderful professional and still is.

"We hope he keeps performing like that until the end of the season."

In his programme notes, Wenger wrote: "It's an incredible achievement but he is a marvellous player.

"He's been underrated because he is always focused, determined, strong in the challenge, has good vision, a top-quality left foot and is also a very good defender.

"He's a very intelligent player on the pitch and breaking Ryan Giggs' record is a remarkable achievement because it shows this guy has dedicated his life to the game."

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