There was much relief back in May 2016 for Newcastle fans, as Rafa Benitez confirmed that he would be staying at the club to try and help NUFC make an instant return to the Premier League.

The newspapers all ran pretty much the same story, suggesting they had been briefed by somebody at the club, reporting that Rafa had been satisfied with the assurances he had been given on his Championship transfer budget.

They all agreed that the deal was that the Spaniard had been guaranteed money to spend by Mike Ashley, regardless of any transfer surplus that he generated by selling players, with any extra cash from sales being added to his guaranteed budget. That guaranteed figure being widely reported as around the £20m mark.

Rafa Benitez did indeed bring in plenty of players, 11 permanent deals and Christian Atsu on a loan with a view to a permanent move at the end of the season.

As well as those coming into St James Park, even more players left – Coloccini, Sissoko, Taylor, Wijnaldum, Townsend, Janmaat and many more.

Moussa Sissoko leaving for £30m on the final day of the summer 2016 transfer window was a massive bonus, too late for that bonus cash to be used by Rafa in the first half of the season, but the prospect of more signings able to be made in January 2017 – with the intention of them being able to help guarantee promotion and/or help Rafa ready his team/squad for the Premier League.

On 11 April 2017, Newcastle United released details of their accounts for the 2015/16 season BUT also chose to reveal that Rafa Benitez had made a massive £40m profit on transfers in the summer 2016 window.

So if you backtrack, if Rafa had a minimum of a £20m transfer kitty before the summer 2016 window opened, then adding £40m of transfer surplus trading meant that Rafa Benitez was £60m ahead of the game and that was his starting point for the January window.

Instead of course, not a single signing was made in January 2017 and Rafa Benitez came out in public to voice his anger and frustration, before then saying they simply had to get on with the job in hand (promotion) with the squad he already had.

I think it is reasonable to assume that Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle fans would all have seen this £60m as an absolute minimum of what he could attack the summer 2017 transfer window with. Hopefully with Ashley consenting to allow extra cash to be added to that figure, plus whatever the manager could raise extra from more player sales.

After a meeting between club owner and manager very soon after the season ended, a club statement was released, indicating that Rafa Benitez wasn’t leaving and quotes from both saying talks had been productive and all positive heading into the summer preparations for the Premier League return.

Whilst Alan Shearer talked of £150m needing to be spent to get Newcastle United into decent shape, the newspapers all ran a very similar story once again after it was confirmed Rafa was staying.

Shearer may have been saying £150m but the newspapers universally came up with a figure of around £80m, you would always hope for more but that seemed a realistic figure, especially considering the previous reports of the £20m Rafa had to spend a year previous, regardless of selling players, plus that £40m summer 2016 surplus he had produced for the club.

As was the case a year earlier, it certainly appeared from the outside that the journalists had been briefed by somebody from Newcastle United, the £80m figure reassuring supporters that Rafa Benitez would have a workable budget that could hopefully ensure a standard of signing could be made that should ensure no relegation struggle.

It is the final friendly today, a week before the season starts, and less than four weeks until the transfer window closes, yet Rafa Benitez appears to have been almost totally starved of funds.

Five signings made so far at a cost of around £30m, whilst around £13m has been recouped on Thauvin, Mbabu and (Daryl) Murphy.

My maths might not be the best but it tells me a net spend of only £17m this summer, a figure less than even what Rafa Benitez was supposedly guaranteed a year ago for dealing with the Championship…and that was before selling over £90m worth of players!

So who is misleading who?

Is it the club having fun with the journalists/newspapers, or is it the papers misleading the supporters?

More worryingly, is it the club (Mike Ashley) misleading everybody, including Rafa Benitez…?

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])



  • Guest 2

    Same old same old from the miserly billionaire and his bespeckled crony. Does make me wonder if the books are being kept to look as healthy as possible due to the talk of external investment or takeover. More likely it’s just Ashley being the normal [email protected] again.

  • Leazes Ender

    As it stands with the first proper match a week away Ashley has positioned his club at Fifteenth and that means a season of relegation fights with the cannon fodder in this division.

    Hardly a Rafalution by even he most conservative of views.

    • hetonmag

      Change the record Leazes I think we’ve all got the message now.

    • Kneebotherm8

      It could have been a Rafalution,if he’d been backed by the club as he was promised. There’s honourable and dishonourable,Rafa’s the former.

  • John

    With all the cash on the game surely someone somewhere can rid us of this vampire Ashley.

  • Rob Brown

    With all of this money supposedly flying around why did Ashley have to put another 30 million of his own cash in just before Christmas, to be used for general operating expenses?

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      Wages, the Mag seems to think money for wages comes from a magic tree or the school of Diane Abbott economics.

      • Danimal

        If we’re going to bring politics into it (and you seem to divide your admiration between our wonderful owner Ashley and our wonderful Tory government) perhaps Ashley’s given all Rafa’s transfer budget to the DUP.

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          When it comes to politics, I usually only respond to wild claims, I don’t usually bring politics into it as my own political views are definitely not along party lines.

          In this case, the Dianne Abbott reference wasn’t really political but simply the most famous recent example of someone who does not understand figures.

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Can someone confirm this but I have heard the premier league money we wont get until end of the season? So is it a cashflow issue hence the loans with delayed payment or installments.

    One of the big problems seems to be shifting players as well. Weve had no outgoings of notable worth. Expected Hanley gone by now for instance.

    There could be a big amount of lastminute business if players start shifting when they realise they stuck here with no game time.

    • mactoon

      The Premiership money is paid at the end of the season as it is paid on a cash per place basis, ie the higher you finish, the more you get.

      The TV money is paid at the end of the season as they don’t know how many times a team will actually appear on TV.

      Shifting players may seem good but with only Thauvin bringing any revenue of note (£10 million?) this won’t make a lot of difference to transfer funds, especially as it will be staged payments so possibly as little as £2 million paid to date.

      Problem with shifting players is they are happy to sit on their current wages and buying clubs are unwilling to match them (eg. Haidara)

      • Damon Horner

        Surely not all of the TV Money? Bulk of it is 100% even for every team and more is released based on a team by team basis considering their TV appearances but is the former value not spread throughout?

        • mactoon

          You could be right but I don’t think it gets paid out til end of season but regardless of where the club’s income comes from Rafa was given a ring fenced transfer budget which will not increase regardless of how much money we get from TV etc.

          • Damon Horner

            Fully agree with that bit about the transfer budget. The TV money suggestion though will be the important factor when it comes to a budget in January.

            I don’t know about the income side too well but it’s a hell of an outlay in one go if it is not staggered and the PL have left themselves open to massive pressure if payments couldn’t be fulfilled.

          • Toonrobbybobson

            Dunno for sure but I think when you hear the likes of Haidara on £25k a week, Mitrovic on £80k a week you begin to think that wage bill in the championship really was a fortune. Only reason I think we got away with it was the Sissoko money. Mismanagement in the boardroom really has come home to roost. I think this season is all about staying up as obvious as that sounds. Rafa is going to be earning his coin.

          • Damon Horner

            You’re right but there is an element of hindsight to it. If the Mitrovic transfer was done this summer on the same terms I think fans would have been happy with it.

          • Toonrobbybobson

            You are probably right here. Mitrovic may still come good but he has to start delivering and taking his chance. Rafa doesnt fancy him at the moment.

            Chucking that much money at the likes of Haidara though is crazy. Ashleys era has a lot to answer for.

            They need to stop messing around and trust someone like Rafa to build how a club should be ran instead of thinking they can outsmart everyone else with an Ashley way!

    • HarryHype59

      According to the Chronicle the 2017 -18 money is spread over this season in installments. The club has already received an eight figure sum in July. It gets monthly payments and a larger sum in January. A final lump sum is paid out at the end of the season which includes the position in the table money.

      Ashley has already picked up an eight figure sum!

      • mactoon

        But it is up to Ashley how much of this money is made available for transfers so in terms of profit it doesn’t make a difference. Ashley makes a set amount of money available for transfers to buy players pay wages agents fees etc. Over the length of the contract on offer. The club could make a hundred million profit and Ashley could still say to Rafa here is your transfer budget.. it’s £40 million.

  • David Dutch

    Well how about this for an unsubstantiated theory? When Rafa was brought in the save us from relegation everyone agreed he was brought in too late even Ashley appeared to agree. I discussions with Rafa after we were relegated we were led to believe that he was to be given full control and final say over recruitment of players capable of getting u out of the Championship as soon as possible. Ashley had worked out how much this was costing him in loss of revenue and advertising on the global stage plus TV money. So Rafa was given the task of taking us back to the PL in one season money was promised and you are right when you show how much of a kitty had been generated. First sign that Ashley was going back on his word was the negative January but then we were sold on the idea that funds were withheld to ensure we had adequate funding to keep us in the PL and in a decent position in the league. So, with Rafa at the helm we got back into the PL Ashley recovered his lost millions in revenue; TV rights and Global advertising. Promises appeared to be made to keep Rafa at the helm good funding if you want them Rafa we will get them, we want quality PL players. We have learned the lesson of trying to buy cheap and sell at a profit so let us get rid of Carr as he was to blame, Charnley was instructed to get whoever Rafa wanted, well that is what we have been told. Let us look at realism. Rafa was taken on to do a job, get us back into the PL he has done that now the question is – is he past his sell by date. Ashley will never change his spots the you can tell when he is not telling the truth he smiles and his lips move. Suddenly there is no money – what happened to those transfer funds that were generated. Now we have a situation where Rafa wants a meeting with Ashley to ask question. However is Ashley deliberately putting Rafa in a corner where he can take it no more and walks away. He is an honourable guy and as such will not wait to be sacked, Great says Ashley no compensation to pay out there. Ashley again gets his own way it is his club his money and he can tread on who he likes after all you will still get 45000 Geordies turning up every week clad in shirts bought through his shops yielding him even more money. Managers are two a penny he does not care about quality, he has stated he is not interested in winning cups or great league placings he wants to stay in the PL and that is the height of his ambition TV money; Advertising and revenue makes profit for him. He will hold onto this golden goose as long as it produces for him he is greedy and typical of most business people in his position.

    Sorry fellow Newcastle fans this is unsubstantiated but rings a token of fact.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    as long as he fills the ground & as long as he`s selling his shirts he`ll stay
    he doesn`t care what the teams like or who`s the manager

  • Sean Mitchell

    When will people just accept that Ashley is business man and will always be about the profit. He has an inability to be straight up with the fans and this has been the case since day one. I think Rafa has fallen for the club, fans and the city, which is the only thing keeping him there. I genuinely hope I’m wrong, but until Ashley either digs deep or sells the club it’s going to be another struggle in the top flight for the Toon.

  • Leicester Mag

    Sadly we will never gain an accurate picture without being a forensic accountant. If the Chronic was a true newspaper rather than the daily froth they might investigate. For health reasons I’d advise holding your breath

    • Oooh bobbi fleckman

      Nufc are not going to reveal their budget and rightly so. The management know the budget, that’s all that is required.

      • Jezza

        I think we all know what the budget is.

        • Oooh bobbi fleckman

          Really, what is it? Where’s your promotion donation to charity bet budget?

          • Jezza

            I never made any bet on promotion. I thought we were going to miss out and I was wrong but there was no bet. The charity bet I made was to donate a quid to charity for every £10 million of net spend NUFC made in the summer transfer window and you can hold me to that. I have not forgotten about it.

          • Kneebotherm8

            Looks like you might be shelling out around 50 pence to charity.

  • mactoon

    My take on it all.

    Are the press misleading the fans?

    Yes, there is no indication of the size of the transfer budget being made public or where it comes from yet they’ve come up with anything from 70 to 100+ million.

    Is the club misleading the public?

    I can’t see that as I can’t see anywhere that the figures have been made public, and they shouldn’t as that would alert selling clubs to how much we have.

    Is the club misleading Rafa?

    Let’s look at what we know so far, (All direct quotes):

    “I’ve confirmed to Rafa and Lee that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means in order to build for next season.”

    A purposely ambiguous statement and this is where the fans have made assumptions that this will include money from last windows profit and so on. Nowhere does he say how much is available or where it comes from. (Only a reported £7.2 million from promotion and any players sold such as Thauvin would be in instalments so not much more there)

    “Mike told me We have this money, it is available, it’s OK, so, fine, we were happy with that”
    “Mike said the budget is mine and I can do what I want with the numbers he has given me. It is the same with wages.”

    So a budget has been shown to Rafa and he is “happy with that” but Rafa is (reported to be) frustrated with the lack of his first choice players coming through the door. He had been promised by Ashley he could do what he wants with the budget so I can only assume that is because the negotiations are being done by Charnley and he is not prepared to pay the going rate. I see this as the problem.

    And now:

    “We are trying to change some players. We have to wait to see the right offers and then after, we will see if we can add some players”

    Seems to me the pot has run dry and we now depend on selling players to get funds for further players. But the players he wants to sell are sitting on wages buying clubs are refusing to match (Haidara)

  • Lord

    I thought we also sold Gibson for £6m or has that not gone through yet?

    • HarryHype59

      I think the club got £900k upfront. The rest depends on him making the first team!

  • Santii

    The media don’t have a clue, lie to the masses and it gets lapped up as fact. Then terrible websites like this one (and the neanderthals on it) state these figures as facts.

    The club would be an embarrassment if they told people what they have to spend.

    • HarryHype59

      If you don’t like the Mag why are you on it 24/7? I know the school holidays can be boring but surely you can find other things to do!

  • Blackburn1066

    If you were a NUFC player on a 3, 4, 0r 5 year contract with big dosh going into your bank would you be rushing to find another club when the Boss tells you your out of here?

  • GToon

    I don’t really care about what figures are banded about. For me the most important question is “has Ashley backed Rafa in the transfer market after Rafa has delivered promotion”. The answer to that question in my opinion is “no”.

  • Sheepdog

    Patience is a virtue my friends. There’s still c. 3 weeks of transfer window left and prices may stabilise more sensibly give Rafa some respect. Salivate over this list of some of his Liverpool signings most of who you hadn’t heard of at the time….

    Xavi Alonso
    Luis Garcia
    Morientes
    Zenden
    Pepe Riena
    Peter Crouch
    Daniel Agger
    Craig Bellamy
    Fabio Aurelio
    Dirk Kuyt
    Alvaro Arbeloa
    Javier Mascerano
    Lucas
    Torres
    Yosi Benayoun
    Martin Skrtel
    Andrea Dossena
    Robbie Keane
    Alberto Riera
    Raheem Sterling
    Jonjo Shelvey

    • Jezza

      Liverpool signings we hadn’t heard of? Craig Bellamy was a former Newcastle player when he signed for Liverpool.