Owen delays contract decision
© AFP

England striker Michael Owen will not make a decision about his future with Newcastle United until the end of the season, a statement released by his agent has said. While that means the 29-year-old will stay at the Magpies through the January transfer window, his long-term future remains uncertain when his current £103,000-pounds-a-week deal expires at the season's end.

But the statement did reveal the former Liverpool and Real Madrid player, who will be free to talk to other clubs from 1 January, would consider a pay-cut if he decided to stay at St James' Park. "Following speculation about my future at Newcastle United, I have decided today (Monday) to make it clear that I am committed to the club until at least the end of this season, and I have informed them I do not want to make a decision about my future until that time," Owen said.

I am happy here and enjoy the challenge. It is simply a matter of seriously thinking about my future as I was 29 last week and my next career decision is a crucial one
Michael Owen on his Newcastle United future.

"I hope this will be seen as a positive step and not seen as being disloyal in any way. I am happy here and enjoy the challenge. It is simply a matter of seriously thinking about my future as I was 29 last week and my next career decision is a crucial one. My decision is not about money. I told the club some months ago that I would accept a reduction in my wages.

"I have no intention of leaving Newcastle United during the January transfer window and want to assure the fans that under Joe Kinnear's passionate management, I am committed with the rest of the players to ensure that the club ends the season on a high."

However, Owen has left open the possibilty he may move to another team, where he feels he has a greater chance of winning a trophy and so impressing England manager Fabio Capello, who has done without him in recent matches.

If Owen was to leave at the end of the season, Newcastle would not receive a transfer fee on their highly-prized asset as he would be a free agent. The player's statement came a day after Kinnear, speaking following Newcastle's 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur, suggested Owen was about to hold talks on the new three-year deal he was offered last week.

"We have to sit down with Michael and the people who represent him and try to strike a deal," said Kinnear. "As far as I have been informed, that's supposed to be in the next three or four days."

Newcastle did appear destined for relegation from the Premier League earlier this season, but have risen up the table since Kinnear took charge following Kevin Keegan's exit. Sunday's win over Spurs left them four points above the relegation zone in 12th place.

Owen has scored 19 goals in 37 games this year, but his time on Tyneside has been beset by injuries with his overall record for Newcastle now standing at 29 goals in 63 games.