Football: McClaren sacked as Newcastle manager

Steven McClaren has been sacked as Newcastle manager, with former Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez close to take over at St James' Park.

McClaren's position was under threat for some time and Saturday's home defeat by Bournemouth was the final straw. Newcastle are now in 19th in the Premier League and look set for the drop.

"After the defeat to Bournemouth on Saturday the club has spent some time considering its position and has today concluded that Steve McClaren's employment with the club will end with immediate effect," read a statement on the club's website.

"We acknowledge that reaching this decision has taken a number of days and that this has caused uncertainty for everyone involved, in particular for Steve and the players, for which we apologise. However we felt that this time was necessary to ensure the right decisions were reached with the best interests of the club at heart."

Managing director Lee Charnley added: "I would like to thank Steve personally for his services to Newcastle United. He is a man of integrity and class and he has conducted himself with great dignity during this difficult time.

"Steve worked tirelessly to try and bring success to Newcastle United. He has the utmost respect of all the players, staff and management and he leaves with our very best wishes and sincere thanks.

"We feel that a change is now needed in order to give the club the best possible chance of securing its Premier League future. A further announcement on a successor to Steve will be made in due course."

Benitez is believed to be in the north east to discuss a deal to succeed McClaren with immediate effect.