ANGRY chairman Freddy Shepherd insists a decision on the futures of Newcastle United's two shamed footballing boxers will not be made until he has held showdown talks at St James' Park today.

After digesting the whole shocking situation, Shepherd will sit down with manager Graeme Souness, along with warring players Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer, to decide their punishment.

The Professional Footballers' Association last night revealed that the team-mates could even face the sack as well as heavy fines and suspensions.

Souness attempted on Saturday to pin the blame on the "indefensible" Bowyer for instigating the brawl, while insisting Dyer did not throw a punch.

But Shepherd - aware that the pair both face being banned for at least the next three domestic games, including the FA Cup semi-final - is waiting until he meets them head on in his office today.

"I'm deeply embarrassed, hurt and angry. It was unbelievable. I could hardly believe what my eyes were telling me," said Shepherd, who has had to deal with a number of controversial incidents in recent years, including the much-publicised spat between Craig Bellamy and Souness in January.

"It was a black day for Newcastle United and, speaking personally, the worst day I've experienced as chairman of this football club. I never thought I'd see two of our own players fighting.

"We have our half-year results at 7.30 in the morning so I will be at St James' Park first thing.

"After that I will be speaking to Graeme Souness and the two players.

"I need to see them face to face before making any decisions. There will be no kangaroo court and I don't want to speculate on anyone's future at this stage."

Steven Taylor's dismissal for a deliberate handball earlier in the defeat by Aston Villa meant that Newcastle became the first Premiership team to have three players sent off since West Ham had Ian Wright, Shaka Hislop and Steve Lomas sent off against Leeds in May 1999.

But teenager Taylor's error does not even compare with the embarrassment brought on the club by Bowyer and Dyer.

Souness made both players apologise for their shameful antics after the match but the consequences are sure to be severe for the pair - with the maximum fine of six weeks' wages a possibility.

And PFA chief Gordon Taylor suggested it could get a lot worse. "Termination of contracts is always open to employers if they believe the employee's behaviour is gross misconduct," he said.

"Nobody could say that wasn't gross misconduct, to be fighting with team-mates and getting yourself sent off and maybe missing key games for the club in the future.

"It is embarrassing, unprofessional and not acceptable.

"They will have woken up on Sunday morning to regret it for the rest of their lives."

Beyond the mandatory suspensions, the Football Association's disciplinary body may feel further action is required, while Souness has until lunch-time today to lodge an appeal over Dyer's dismissal.

"I have been told and reassured by Kieron that he didn't throw any punches and he was on the receiving end. That is the road we are going down," said the boss.

Souness hopes that he can persuade Shepherd to keep both players at the club, despite bringing disgrace to St James' Park.

Aston Villa boss David O'Leary was just as stunned as everyone else by events but had a little joke at Newcastle's expense about the club's apparent good team spirit following two trips to Dubai.

"Newcastle do not need that. There has been a lot said about their team spirit after Dubai," said O'Leary, who had Bowyer under his wing at Leeds when he was one of a group of players who frequently attracted the wrong sort of headlines.

* Steven Taylor will miss Sunday's match at Tottenham after his red card.

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