Bellamy accuses Souness of lying
Craig Bellamy looks to have played his last game for Newcastle after chairman Freddy Shepherd tonight accused him of 'cheating' the club, the supporters, manager Graeme Souness and his team-mates.
Newcastle are furious that the 25-year-old Welshman chose to elaborate on the weekend's controversy, in which he was dropped from the squad for yesterday's clash with Arsenal after feigning injury, in a television interview this afternoon, and Shepherd has come out with all guns blazing.
'I wish to put the record straight regarding the Bellamy situation,' he said. 'He walked off the training ground saying his hamstring was tight, but what he failed to reveal in his interview was that he had told other members of the squad before training that he intended to feign injury.
'When Graeme Souness discovered this, he immediately ordered Bellamy to attend a meeting with us in my office.
'At that meeting, Bellamy admitted to Graeme and I that he had told the players that he was going to 'fake' an injury in training and walk off. He also agreed at that meeting to apologise to his team mates for his behaviour.
'He didn't do this which resulted in the action taken by the manager at the weekend, which I fully support.
'In my book, this is cheating on the club, the supporters, the manager and the player's own team-mates.
'Craig Bellamy is paid extremely well by Newcastle United and I consider his behaviour to be totally unacceptable and totally unprofessional. The player will now face internal discipline by the club.'
Shepherd's comments will leave Bellamy in no doubt that his future on Tyneside is in severe jeopardy.
Bellamy admitted he feared for his future at the club in his TV interview earlier today which he acknowledged might prove to be the final straw.
The feeling in Newcastle after yesterday's very public bust-up was that Bellamy and Souness might kiss and make up after their second major spat, but that appears to have been blown out of the water by events since.
Souness was furious with the player and left him out of the 16 at Highbury accordingly, although Shepherd attempted to calm the waters late last night.
However, after seeing the Welshman blot his copybook once again, he may have decided that enough is enough, and the next few days could prove eventful to say the least.
In the Sky Sports News interview, Bellamy had accused Souness of telling a 'downright lie' in an attempt to hound him away from the club.
Bellamy claimed he was ready to let the simmering row with Souness cool off, until he heard the manager's post-match comments on the radio while on the team bus waiting to leave Highbury.
'I see the Sky TV and everyone's there and I thought: `No stay out of the way, this isn't the right time.''
However, Bellamy's attitude changed when he became aware of what Souness had implied in his post-game interview.
'I couldn't believe it,' Bellamy said.
'I was in shock. I just thought: 'Not only has he gone behind my back, in front of my face, he's lying.'
Whereas Souness had earlier delivered a damning indictment of Bellamy's behaviour prior to the weekend's trip south, as recounted by chairman Shepherd, Bellamy tells a different story.
He claimed that reports on Friday linking him with a move away from the club had proved unsettling.
'I couldn't get my head around training,' said Bellamy.
'I felt I had to go and see the manager. But he wasn't involved [in training] so I thought I'll go see the manager, the chairman, see if I'm wanted or not.
'So I came off the training ground and said [to Saunders] I have a hamstring injury.'
Bellamy stressed that, while not injured, he had taken that course of action to allow time for showdown talks with Souness and chairman Freddy Shepherd.
Bellamy claimed that both men insisted he remained a key player at the club.
He had then expected to be named on the bench at Highbury, but Souness left him out completely.
'Obviously I asked him at the training ground and he said: `Bella, you miss out today', grinning at me,' Bellamy added.
Bellamy joined Newcastle in 2001, in a #6million deal from Coventry, and was a mainstay of Sir Bobby Robson's team, forging a productive partnership with captain Alan Shearer.
He claims that Souness had promised to bring a wide man to the club this month, to allow him to revert from the right flank to centre-forward.
'But when we're linked with strikers, I want to know where I stand,' Bellamy said.
'Am I a winger?'
Bellamy insists he will stay on Tyneside.
'I'll never ask for a transfer request to leave this club,' he said.
'This club mean so much to me. To leave this club? I couldn't do it.'
He is offended by Souness' stance, calling his claims a 'downright lie', and adding: 'He couldn't say it to my face.
'It hurts a hell of a lot. I've kept my nose clean this season, I've trained as hard as I could. Certain situations happened and I rose above it.
'It seems I'm not wanted by a certain person and the only way to do it is to turn the fans against me.'
Bellamy's outburst has nevertheless now apparently destroyed his Newcastle career.
'The situation has gone a bit too far, but at the end of the day I've got two and a half years left on my contract,' he added.
'I've never once refused to play out of position.
'As long as I put that black and white shirt on, that's all that matters for me - not a certain manager.'