FORMER St James' Park favourite Rob Lee helped to persuade Scott Parker to make a £6.5m move by insisting Newcastle United are a bigger club than Chelsea.

The two midfielders' playing styles are not too dissimilar and both manager Graeme Souness and chairman Freddy Shepherd hailed Parker as the new Lee on the day he signed.

Both men made a name for themselves at boyhood club Charlton and the more experienced of the pair became a hero on Gallowgate during his 380 appearances for the Magpies after moving from the Addicks in 1992.

While Parker - with offers on the table from Everton and Tottenham - was mulling over his options on his summer holiday he bumped into Lee who told him there should be only one place to go.

And the 39-year-old, in contract talks to extend his stay at Wycombe Wanderers next season, believes Parker has made the right choice despite turning his back on Premiership champions Chelsea.

"He's leaving the champions, but in some ways Newcastle are a bigger club than Chelsea," said Lee. "The fans are much better. It's a much more intense atmosphere to play in, but he'll find it's a great area to be a footballer.

"Newcastle fans may not have been feeling optimistic after last season, but this should lift a bit of the gloom. It's only a start, but it's a great start."

Having spent such a large part of his early days in professional football at Charlton, Lee is familiar with the sort of grounding Parker will have had playing at The Valley before making the high profile switch to Chelsea.

Despite his £10m price-tag the energetic 24-year-old struggled to hold down a first team place at Stamford Bridge - a year of his life which he describes as a 'temporary blip' in his career.

And Lee agrees, hailing Parker as one of the finest English midfielders around and a signing of exactly the sort Newcastle needed.

"It's a fantastic signing. If I could have picked one midfielder Newcastle should buy, it would have been Scott Parker.

"He's got a great engine, he can tackle, pass, he's got the right attitude, the fans will love him. He's a complete midfielder," said Lee.

"I've played against him a couple of times and he was very tenacious, not afraid of anything.

"I think that eventually he'll be a great sitting midfielder and if you played him with JJ (Jermaine Jenas), you would think Jermaine could get forward. Newcastle haven't seen the best of Nicky Butt and this will be a challenge to him and Kieron Dyer."

Souness is working hard to ensure that Parker will not be the last arrival of the summer.

As well as Turkish midfielder Emre there are a number of defenders and forwards on the shopping list.

And Parker's arrival is the latest sign that controversial midfielder Lee Bowyer is unlikely to be at St James' next season - despite his move to Birmingham being on the verge of collapse.

Bowyer has been holding talks with the Blues over a summer transfer.

However, after a 'small minority' of fans petitioned against the signing, the player has told Birmingham to look elsewhere for a new face.

St Andrews' owner David Sullivan said: "The player does not want to come where he is not welcome.

"He has indicated to his agent that it would be inappropriate as a result of the action of some of the Birmingham supporters.

"At this moment in time it looks like he won't come to us.

"We would love him to come to Birmingham, we are doing all we can to bring him in."

Meanwhile, Newcastle boss Souness has been fined £20,000 and handed a suspended two-match touchline ban for his verbal attack on referee Barry Knight.

The 52-year-old Scot was found to be in breach of failing to act in the best interests of the game and/or having brought the game into disrepute at a disciplinary hearing yesterday.

Souness denied the charge, which resulted from comments made in his post-match press conference at Everton on May 7. He did not request a personal hearing.

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