A judge has refused to try Magpies skipper Kevin Nolan - because he's a Newcastle United fan.

Judge Stephen Earl is worried about appearing biased while trying Nolan for speeding because he regularly attends St James' Park to watch him play.

But while he refuses to hear Nolan's case - scheduled for just before Christmas - he has had no problem handling Toon legend and former Middlesbrough player Paul Gascoigne's current drink-driving trial - or previous a case involving then-Newcastle number 9 Obafemi Martins.

The judge threatened to bang Gazza up - warning that all options "up to and including a custodial sentence" were open earlier this month at Newcastle Magistrates' Court.

Speaking at an administration hearing for Nolan's case at North Shields Magistrates' Court Judge Earl said he was "not willing to do the trial."

He added: "Since I do go and watch them, it may seem biased if I was to try the case."

He has admitted that a substitute will be hard to find - putting the date in jeopardy as the court struggles to find a judge "willing to come to North Shields a week and a half before Christmas."

Nolan is due to stand trial next month for allegedly driving at 65mph in a 30mph zone - if convicted he is likely to be banned from the road.

If the court fails to find another judge, Nolan's case may have to be postponed until the New Year.

Nolan did not attend the hearing, which was held to clarify the facts of the alleged offence.