NECWASTLE would reportedly be forced to shell out more than £4 million if they sack Steve Bruce.
The Times claim Toon owner Mike Ashley is standing by the 60-year-old despite poor form and reports of player bust-ups.
The report adds that Bruce would be entitled to a compensation package of more than £4m if Newcastle perform a U-turn and sack him.
The English manager was already under pressure on Tyneside after a run of three games with a win in the Premier League.
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His injury-ravaged squad are just one place and three points outside the relegation zone.
And reports this week revealed that Bruce allegedly barged into Matt Ritchie during a training ground row.
The Scottish midfielder, 31, is said to be fuming because he felt his boss hung him out to dry over his part in the 1-1 draw with Wolves.
The Mail report claimed Ritchie, who joined the club for £12million in 2016, told Bruce he was ‘done’ with him.
Bruce is said to have hit back, saying: “What are you going to do? Tell Lee Charnley?”
That is claimed to be a reference to allegations that Magpies players have voiced their frustrations at Bruce’s methods to the club’s managing director.
However, BBC Sport says Ritchie has apologised for what he said and that the matter is now considered closed.
But Bruce will still be a desperate to return to winning ways against fellow regelation strugglers West Brom on Sunday.
On top of player unrest, Newcastle are without all of their recognised front three of Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin.