By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes
Joey Barton has revealed on Twitter he is “gutted” that Newcastle will not be in the Premier League next season.
The former Magpies midfielder said the English top flight will be diminished by the absence of such a passionately supported club.
But Barton backed Newcastle to make a swift return to the Premier League.
Newcastle’s relegation was confirmed on Wednesday night when Sunderland secured the victory they needed to stay up with a convincing 3-0 home win over Everton.
Rafael Benitez’s team drew against Aston Villa last Saturday to extend their unbeaten run to five matches but their haul of 34 points leaves them four adrift of Sunderland.
Barton, who spent four years at Newcastle from 2007 to 2011, predicted that relegation may act as a “catalyst” for boardroom change at St James’ Park.
Barton, 33, also hinted that he will be back in the Premier League next season.
The midfielder was an integral player as Burnley won the Championship this season but he is out of contract in the summer.
In other Newcastle news, Benitez has reportedly had a change of heart about his future.