Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has denied making an obscene gesture towards supporters who were protesting outside of a restaurant during planned talks between the club's hierarchy and squad.

Ashley, the founder and chief executive of Sports Direct who recently bought department store chain House of Frasier, travelled up to Newcastle to hold talks with his players and staff ahead of their Premier League clash with Manchester United.

Following the meal at an Italian restaurant, Ashley was met by roughly a dozen Newcastle supporters who were protesting against the 54-year-old's ownership.

After making the short walk to his car, cameras panned round to try and get a glimpse of the Magpies owner. It was here that Ashley appeared to make a V-sign in the direction of the fans outside of the restaurant.

"Mike did not give a V-sign to fans," a spokesperson for Ashley told the Sun. "It is obvious from the accompanying photos that he is smiling and enjoying the evening.

"Anybody who saw Match of the Day at the weekend will also be aware that Mike is actually very respectful in his reactions to fans."

The meal was set up as a way of clearing the air following Newcastle United's winless start to the season. Along with manager Rafa Benítez and the first team squad, a number of backroom staff were also in attendance at the Italian restaurant, Rialto.

Ashley has already been coming immense scrutiny from supporters in the northeast, and even fans from other clubs across the country are starting to back the Newcastle faithful with their protests.

The club are currently sat in the relegation zone in the Premier League table, ahead of Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town only on goal difference. During the most recent transfer window, only Burnley (£19m), Crystal Palace (£10m) and Tottenham (£0) spent less than the Magpies on signings.