sport

Ben Arfa's fans meet cancelled

Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa's planned meeting with fans has been cancelled at short notice because it would be "counter-productive".

The 27-year-old has become a peripheral figure at the club following a reported disagreement with manager Alan Pardew last season.

Ben Arfa was quoted as saying he had "a strong exchange of words" with Pardew after a 4-0 defeat by Manchester United in early April, leading to a sharp deterioration of his relationship with both manager and club.

He only featured once more for the Magpies before the end of the season, coming off the bench in a defeat by Stoke, and missed the club's last four games of the season altogether.

The France international, who has one year left on his deal, has trained with the club's development squad during the summer.

Ben Arfa did not feature in Newcastle's open training session which took place on the same day as his proposed "meet and greet" with fans at sports book shop The Back Page.

"Since accepting the invitation last week, it has become increasingly clear that Hatem will be excluded from the training day event at St James' Park today," read a statement from the shop.

"In light of the increasing media circus that news has prompted, both The Back Page and Hatem agree that staging the event would be counter-productive and cancellation is the most logical course of action.

"Hatem sends his apologies and is saddened that he's unable to meet supporters at this time."

Ben Afra has been given the number 26 shirt in this season's squad list, losing the number 10 shirt he wore last campaign to new signing Siem de Jong.

His last start for Newcastle came on March 29 against Southampton and his chances of adding to his 82 appearances for the club currently seem slim.