MAGPIES owner Mike Ashley is selling the famous Newcastle United sign that once adorned St James’ Park on eBay – to the dismay of fans.

The move comes two years after Mr Ashley provoked outrage over attempts to rename the club’s home James’ Park Mr Ashley has decided to donate the proceeds of the letters, which are about 6ft in height, to the club’s charity.

The club has replaced the letters with the new Newcastle United livery, flanked by hoardings for Mr Ashley’s chain of sportswear shop, Sports Direct.

The original stainless steel lettering, dating from about 1996, was removed after the club’s home game against Fulham on August 28 and replaced by the new sign.

The Northern Echo: St James Park, NewcastleThe Newcastle United sign at St James' Park which is being auctioned on eBay, to the dismay of fans

Mark Jensen, Newcastle supporter and editor of The Mag fanzine, said last night: “I know the money is going to charity, but fans are really disappointed to see the sign come down.

“I suppose from a cynical point of view, the East Stand is the part of the stadium that gets the most exposure on the television cameras.

“There is also a Sports Direct sign on the roof of the Gallowgate End which is visible from above the stadium.”

He added: “It is not just what happens on the pitch that matters. It is also the whole surrounding of St James’ Park. This is a step too far.”

The foundation’s page on the official Newcastle United website has a link to eBay, offering buyers the chance to “purchase a piece of Newcastle United heritage”.

It reads: “Following the recent revamp of the famous East Stand sign at St James’ Park, the old lettering which used to adorn the front section of the roof can be yours, through an exclusive online auction.

“And in buying the letters, you will also be raising funds for the club’s official charity, Newcastle United Foundation.”

A club spokesman said: “The sign was revamped in the last month and the owner has decided to make the old sign available for the club’s charity – The Newcastle United Foundation.

“Each individual letter is being sold on eBay.

“The Newcastle United sign has changed with some additional sponsorship added to that stand. It has nothing to do with the words Newcastle United – it is still exactly what it was a month ago only in revamped lettering – a more modern style.”

At the moment, the letter N has got £1,120 with the lowest letter attracting a bid of £110.

The auction runs until Sunday.