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Protest over club owner

Fans group takes shirt off Ashley’s back

Mike AshleyBeleaguered sports retail tycoon Mike Ashley is facing a second shirt battle with football supporters.

As Rangers fans organise a boycott against the club’s merchandise over the link with Sports Direct a group of Newcastle United fans have produced their own replica shirt, prompting a threat of legal action from the club’s billionaire owner.

The supporters are protesting at the club’s sponsorship deal with controversial money lenders Wonga and Ashley’s running of the St James’ Park outfit.

The shirt is being marketed as “an anti-Wonga and Mike Ashley-free” alternative and features the club’s magpie together with the city crest. It proved an instant hit, selling out within an hour.

Mr Ashley’s legal representatives have now fired off a letter claiming copyright on the Magpie name and badge. The group, known as the Magpie Brand, will now change to the Newcastle Fans Brand and the shirt will be the Newcastle Fans Shirt.

A spokesman for the group said: “We just want to claim the black and white stripes for the fans.”

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