THE Newcastle United backlash gathered pace last night with thousands of fans vowing to boycott the club’s next match – and Geordie legend Alan Shearer criticising the treatment of Kevin Keegan.

After a week of turmoil at St James’ Park, supporters say as many as 10,000 fans could turn their backs on the club at next weekend’s home game against Hull City.

Incensed by the manner of Keegan’s departure, fans vowed to do everything they could to punish club owner Mike Ashley.

Last night, former Newcastle and England captain Shearer joined the chorus of disapproval and ruled himself out of the running to replace Keegan.

Shearer said: “If you are the manager and on Monday morning you have two or three players waiting for you and you don’t even know who they are, you have every right to ask what’s happening.

“A manager lives or dies by his decisions – and if he can’t make those decisions then there is no point in him being there.

“Kevin has just thought he can’t live with it any more. It is a dangerous trend when you go to a club and a director of football is appointed. There can only be one person in a club making the decisions.”

In a further blow for the club yesterday, midfielder Joey Barton was given a sixmatch ban and fined £25,000 by the Football Association for an attack on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo. The 26-year-old was banned for 12 games, but six were suspended until the end of the 2009-2010 season.

On Thursday evening, fans’ favourite Keegan put an end to two days of speculation by quitting the club after eight months in charge in an ongoing row over control of the club’s transfer policy.

The announcement provoked angry demonstrations outside the Magpies’ ground, with most anger reserved for owner Mr Ashley and the club’s London-based executive director, Dennis Wise.

Within hours, fans’ website was inundated with emails from angry supporters, 5,000 members of the Toon Army having contacted the site yesterday to vent their frustration over events at St James’ Park.

Hosts of the site said that fans backed action to hit the club in the pocket by boycotting stadium bars and other club merchandise.

The site urged supporters to remain calm after some had called for more extreme protests, including pitch invasions, but said it believed there was an “unprecedented level of militancy” among fans.

Frank Gilmour, chairman of the Newcastle Independent Supporters’ Association, said: “Whether or not the fans boycott the Hull City match is down to them.

“Although there is nothing organised as such, I would expect less than 40,000 fans through the gates at next Saturday’s home game.

“I think the number of fans will be significantly reduced in light of what has just happened, and I would be surprised if this were not the case.”

Steve Wraith, editor of fanzine Players Inc, urged fans to support the team, but acknowledged protests were likely.

He said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a drop in attendance at the Hull City game.”

Meanwhile, speculation was turning to Keegan’s likely successor.

Spurs assistant boss Gus Poyet is an early front-runner, along with Everton manager David Moyes, former Chelsea star Gianfranco Zola and Brazilian World Cup star Zico, who recently left Turkish side Fenerbahce.

Yesterday, the League Managers’ Association, which worked with Keegan to try to reach a compromise with the club, criticised the set-up at Newcastle, which had led to the impasse with the board.

Chief executive Richard Bevan said: “It looked a little bit like an orchestra with four conductors.”