Mike Ashley has been given the best bit of advice possible, if he seriously wants to sell the club.
The Newcastle United owner has been told that ‘keeping Rafa in the tent, helping facilitate this sale, is absolutely critical’.
When Rafa Benitez approached Newcastle United in March 2016, it was surely Mike Ashley’s luckiest day of his 10+ years of owning the club, Rafa having left Real Madrid and then contacting NUFC after the sacking of Steve McClaren.
Delivering the advice to Mike Ashley on selling the club is Christian Purslow.
He has plenty of relevant experience as he was Managing Director of Liverpool when the club was sold in 2010, Purslow having to withstand attempts from Hicks and Gillett to remove him and stop the sale.
He stayed on at Liverpool for a time after the sale of the club as a special adviser and non-executive director, before eventually taking up a post at Chelsea as ‘Head of Global Commercial activities’.
Christian Purslow worked with Rafa Benitez at Anfield and clearly rates the Newcastle boss very highly, saying ‘Let me tell you, any buyer wanting to buy Newcastle will want to engage with Rafael Benitez. They have to because losing Rafael Benitez as a new owner would be a catastrophic start point’.
Purslow believes it is unusual business behaviour with Mike Ashley having gone so public in announcing/stating the club is to be sold – but thinks this shows how desperate the NUFC owner is to sell at last.
He thinks Ashley has had a reality check and realises that after two relegations (2008/09 and 2015/16) in eight Premier League seasons, plus two near misses (2012/13 stayed up when won final away game at QPR and then 2014/15 on final day of season when beating West Ham at home), this is the time to get out.
Christian Purslow speaking to Sky Sports News:
“It is very risky going public in any business, announcing it is going to be sold, but in this case it is very clear that Mike Ashley wants out as soon as possible.
“By my calculations, he has probably spent over £250m buying the club, clearing its debts, and investing.
“He has a chance now to recover that money.
“Newcastle are flying in the league, they have a fantastic coach, the Premier League money is on the up, but he knows it is a precarious position.
“He has been relegated twice in the 10 years he has owned the club.
“I don’t think he wants to take that risk again, hence the very unusual measure of not only announcing a quick sale, but that he is (also) willing to help buyers by staging the payments.
“I think there is a strong argument right now that Rafa Benitez is the key asset of the football club.
“He is a top tier manager and he is a manager used to working for the real cream teams around Europe,
“I think right now, for Mike Ashley, keeping Rafa in the tent, helping facilitate this sale, is absolutely critical.
“Let me tell you, any buyer wanting to buy Newcastle will want to engage with Rafael Benitez.
“They have to because losing Rafael Benitez as a new owner would be a catastrophic start point.”