Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has released a statement claiming that investors in his company have 'stabbed him in the back' over the dismissal of Keith Hellawell, the firm's chairman.

Ashley said that the shareholders had been "hounding" Hellawell, who quit unexpectedly ahead of the company's annual general meeting (AGM) earlier this week.

Whilst Ashley's statement speaks to his business, many Newcastle fans are seeing it as evidence that their protests against his ownership of the Magpies, coupled with increased media scrutiny, is starting to have an effect.

Toon fans have moved away from making their opinion heard on the terraces of St. James' Park by protesting outside Sports Direct stores. Some fans have even taken further strides in their efforts by buying nominal amounts of shares in Sports Direct so they could attend the company's annual AGM. 

At the AGM, Ashley claimed that his company's major shareholders had been affected by the 'pressure' put on by the media and the fans of Newcastle United, as reported by the Mag.

“Despite this progress and the undoubted good performance of Sports Direct led by Keith Hellawell and myself, the company’s shareholders appear to be affected by the pressure of the media and certain other organisations, and they have failed to support Sports Direct, Keith and myself, on this journey."

Ashley's statement will only do his critics a world of good as it is a reflection of him feeling the pressure. His running of the club simply hasn't been good enough and for many fans they will be hoping that he will soon cave in and sell the club.

As for the club itself, they sit in 18th position and for many a battle against relegation is expected this campaign. They face an improving Arsenal side on Saturday in what promises to be an exciting affair.