It is the question that crops up twice a year at Newcastle United…can Rafa Benitez trust Mike Ashley?

Well the answer to that over these last 20 months is a resounding ‘NO’.

The first transfer window after relegation saw both sides relatively happy, Rafa Benitez getting around £50m to help rebuild a squad that had lost more than a full team of players, whilst at the same time generating a £40m transfer profit for Mike Ashley.

Since that point it has been on the up on the pitch but downhill and divisive off it.

All three transfer windows following the same pattern, Rafa talking of targets lined up in advance, then the manager expressing frustration that ‘promises’ need to be kept, before finally each window closing and Rafa Benitez expressing his anger at being let down, before just getting back on with the job…

However, ahead of Everton, Benitez has now went very public with a warning to Mike Ashley, that he can’t just keep ‘getting back on with the job’ and ‘cannot do miracles every year’.

The manager says there has to be ‘a realistic business plan’ and that he has made clear to Ashley and his minions what needs to happen, declaring ‘They know my idea’.

As has been the case throughout the 11 years of Mike Ashley, there is clearly no ‘realistic business plan’ to improve and build the club long-term, it has always been just about trying to get through another season and try to stay in the Premier League with the lowest possible spend. Apart from of course those seasons were the need has been to get back into the Premier League, when Ashley’s minimalist and chaotic way of running the club has led to another relegation.

There are now only 20 days to go until the end of the season and quite clearly, despite Premier League safety being basically confirmed at least 16 days ago when winning at Leicester, there has been no moves behind the scenes to reassure Rafa Benitez that things are going to change and what is going to happen this summer, if anything.

On Friday the United boss made clear he didn’t yet have any idea of what summer transfer budget he will have and so admits he can’t start making plans yet.

Asked now if he can ‘trust’ Mike Ashley, Rafa Benitez took the diplomatic route and instead said ‘I think the answer is…that Everton is the next game, and I have to prepare for that’.

Never, has not answering a question told us something so clearly.

People might say Mike Ashley never responds well to being called out in public but what choice has Rafa got, after being blocked from buying players in both January 2017 and January 2018, then forced to shop for bargains last summer, whilst as he says, even Brighton and Huddersfield were giving their managers several times the net spend Benitez was allowed.

Something has to change and seeing the manager driven out of the club is most definitely not the answer.

Rafa Benitez asked if he can trust Mike Ashley:

“I think the answer is…that Everton is the next game, and I have to prepare my team for that.

“To be in the top four, to win trophies, to win the league, that is what I want to do…it is not just survival or mid-table [that I want].

“We’re going in the right direction but I cannot do miracles every year.

“The main thing is to be sure that we [Rafa and Mike Ashley/Club] share the same ambition.

“I like to win and I want to win trophies, I want to be capable of competing.

“At the same time, I like to improve players, and follow a realistic business plan in modern football.

“I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.

“We have to be sure that we have all the tools to compete, to achieve what we want, because Newcastle United is a massive football club.

“What I don’t want next year…

“Is if we finish in the top 10, for people to [unrealistically] say, “OK fine, now you must finish in the top six.”

“To do that, you must have a real project with a realistic business plan, with an idea of the target and the tools to achieve that target.

“We have to change things if we want to improve…they know my idea.

Brighton and Huddersfield, they have also done a fantastic job, but it is different, because everybody was expecting more of Newcastle – because of the fans, the stadium.

“But that was not the case as we were spending less than them.

“They [outsiders] were expecting us to beat Manchester City and Liverpool, because we have done so in the past, but it was more difficult for us.”



  • Paul Patterson

    If you look at Everton, they spent fortunes last summer/January (140m+) and their season can hardly be described as successful if they finish around the same position as us (a newly promoted team on minimal spend).
    It shouldn’t take fortunes to compete (Everton paid £30m alone for a goal keeper) for if we sign Dubravka for £4m and Kenedy circa £25m, then use the Mitrovic fee on a direct replacement, I would consider that good business with only three players bought on a modest enough spend.

    • Wor Lass

      As you say, it`s not the amount that`s the key point it`s the knowledge of what there is, it`s availability to the manager and his role in the decision-making process. If players can see that the manager isn`t calling the shots and there`s a possibility that he might chuck in the towel then why would good one`s come or key players like Lascelles stay?

    • Jezza

      There might be a slim chance of Dubravka being signed for £4 million but only if other players are sold first. As for Kenedy for £25 million and the Mitrovic fee being re-invested on a replacement, all I can say is where have you been for the past 11 years?

      • Lord

        I think Dubravka will be bought simply because if the £4m is accurate (is it?) then he’s obviously a player that would have huge resell value and a big profit. Those are the signings Mike Ashley likes. And, goodness, how hard is it to find them in today’s market.

        Kenedy for £25m? Nah, too risky – might go down to only £20m in a few years if he doesn’t keep up his form.

        • Jezza

          Fair comment. Ashley doesn’t buy players to strengthen the team he buys them to sell on for a profit so Dunravka at £4 million would suit that purpose.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        Utter rubbish Jezza, we have a deal in place and money is available.

    • 1957

      My London based (journalist) brother-in-law says the goalkeeper is as good as a done deal, we’ve had tentative discussions with Chelsea over another Kenedy loan deal, permanent isnt on the table at the moment, Mitrovic would happily stay at Fulham if they go up but they can’t tie us down to a price for a deal pre world cup and Slimani won’t be back next season as some of Benitez staff have doubts about him.

      Unless there is a sale of the club there will be minimal cash available for permanent signings, but some for the maximum 4 loan signings, he also says he expects Benitez to be here unless Pochettino leaves Spurs and they make an approach.

      • Jezza

        To be fair you don’t need to be a London based journailst to foresee most of those things.

      • mactoon

        That all makes sense apart from the 4 loan signings as a club can only register 2 at any one time

        • 1957

          Only two long term from another PL team, four in total, we have three at the moment the goalkeeper is from outside the PL

          • mactoon

            I think it’s four in one season and only two at one time so they would be spread over the two transfer windows?

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        You are right about the keeper and Kenedy, Mitrovic’s position depends on Fulham getting promoted.

        I thought Rafa’s team were switched back on to Slimani having been frustrated over the injury. I’ve also heard that Pochettino may well be leaving Spurs but not linked Rafa with them.

        Also, I think there is money available, just no new money.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Chelsea will not sell Kenedy for £25m, I doubt they will sell at all. I suspect we’ll need to wait until Conte’s successor decides who he wants to keep on the left and then we get to loan him for a season.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      The interesting thing with Everton is that they were under pressure to spend the Lukaku money but did not spend it wisely. They also found that you can only spend that money once, if it’s wasted, you can’t get it back too easily.

      They may see things differently, Rooney may well have accepted a lower wage at Everton than he could have picked up elsewhere, also Rooney could possibly command a decent fee if he goes to China / states so it’s not wasted as such.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    He`s wasting his time, Fatso will do what he wants to do no matter what Rafa or anyone else say`s, you`d have to be thick as a brick to trust the guy

  • Peaky

    No one should trust Fatso….he’s ruthless…that’s why he is where he is and he’s got what he’s got….

  • TheFatController

    Hopefully someone will buy. It only takes £300m now.

    It used to be more than £300m plus a war chest to buy a squad capable of getting into the top 10.

    Now however, with the guaranteed tv money and Rafa’s improvement of the squad, less is needed injecting to make sure we stay a PLclub.

    Thus somebody with the £300m plus the confidence they can introduce a business plan to turn tv money into players and infrastructure improvements each year is all we need. They’d be doing no less than Ashley, but would (hopefully) be trusted by management and fans.

    Someone like a Steve Gibson. Can you imagine if the owner, though having no financial input, was joining in with Rafa’s plan to unite everyone? Was investing all the tv money for th good of the club?

    A 5 year plan to allow Rafa to slowly build and let a young team mature into something way bigger than its investment suggests.maybe even (shock horror) make more money from commercial deals?

    Let’s hope someone can raise that £300m and just use their brain and not their ego from the get go

    • mactoon

      I doubt the asking price is still £300 million. Ashley will be asking for more now the club is safe with 3 years of £100 + million TV money coming in

      • TheFatController

        True, but any negotiator will just immediately point out the lack of investment – you can’t sell something as worth investing in when you haven’t been investing in it yourself – Ashley has severely weakened his negotiating stance by not realising the potential.

        Every negotiation will start with ‘you can forget that price Ashley, we need to put in what you didn’t…’ – I am sure some negotiations have already started that way, hence no one has bought us as Ashley thinks sensible business decisions dont apply to him.

        Sensible business people would take a profit to realise it as profit and not just ‘on paper’ equity, but Ashley will probably let his ego get in the way sadly …

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          What do you think needs to be put in on top of the circa £275m Mike Ashley has already haemorrhaged on the club?

          You are saying that £25m return over 11 years having tied up £275m is a reasonable return? He literally would have been better off at the post office.

          • TheFatController

            That’s not my fault. That’s his.

            Go f yourself if you think you can manipulate it to look like mike’s the victim of my expecting him to sell at a loss.

            Child.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I’m not suggesting he’s the victim, he should never have paid £133m for the shareholding in the first place, he could have got the club for nothing had he been a bit patient.

            However, he decides if he’s going to sell and £300m is not a great figure when he’s tied £275m up for the best part of 11 years.

            I do believe he’ll accept something less than £350m but above £300m. I’d also suggest that is a bargain.

          • Jezza

            Don’t rise to the bait. That’s what the troll wants. Don’t give him the satisfaction. Just block him.

        • mactoon

          Sky Sports now reporting “It is understood Newcastle owner Mike Ashley will be looking to recoup between £380-£400m from the sale of the club”. To be honest it’s his club and he can ask what he wants and doesn’t need to negotiate as he probably thinks what the hell if I don’t sell it I get TV money helping the club to become self sufficient and I get free SD advertising.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Mike Ashley has put more of his personal money into the club than any other person in the history of the club.

      I can’t see him selling for £300m, think you may need to be closer to £350m.

      What frustrates me is so many fans seem to know how to move the club on, surely the fans can raise £300m between them. There are around 150,000 regular fans out there, an average of £2,000 investment buys the club – basically, most fans have that amount sat on their driveway or within the equity of their house.

      • Alan

        You my friend are an absolute bell end.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          I may be, but my statement is irrefutable. Ashley has put more of his personal money into the club than anyone else in the history of the club. More than the Halls, Shepherd, Fletcher etc.

          • TheFatController

            Shut up, he’s not Mansour, he’s doing it for his own business empire needs.

            You sound like you’re on drugs?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I’m not suggesting for a minute that it’s all been philanthropy but the truth is, he’s put more money in than anyone else in history.

            I don’t think even Mansour used his own personal money to invest in City. Someone may correct me.

          • Jezza

            He’s not on drugs, he’s just a sad inadequate pathetic failure of a human being who needs to wind people up and provoke a reaction in order to feel remotely good about himself. Just block him.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            ahhh diddums

          • Stephen Paylor

            He has not put any of his money in. The value of the club in the premier league is more than any of the money to buy the club or added at any time which equates to what 250 million or so? It is an investment, like a bank account where the savings rate depends on your success. Putting money in would be like him writing off the money and accepting a loss. He hasn’t lost anything and never will.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            That’s a very weird way of accounting.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I think a football club is a long way from being like putting money in a bank. Ells Short isn’t exactly looking at his money in Sunderland and believing it’s all safe.

        • Jezza

          …and you are an excellent judge of character.

      • TheFatController

        Well, if you can imagine a group representing the fans dealing with Ashley and his untrustworthy disrespectful associates on hard earned money matters, you’re on LSD.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          So you want it all ways? Football fans are like socialists, they want money spent but only if it’s other people’s money.

          £2,000 each, 1/2 a months salary, 1/4 of a 2nd hand car.

          We wouldn’t even have to deal with Mike Ashley. It’s simple, Solicitors draw up an agreement,Fan’s investment group acquire the shareholding and debt of the club and Mike ashley says, thanks, I’m off. Everybody is happy.

      • 1957

        It’s a wonderful theory that’s supporters could buy the club but for me it’s a recipe for disaster. The investing supporters elect a board and the reality of running the club means they don’t deliver the transfer funding, so they are kicked out at the next election and a new board elected on promises of spend spend spend, who can’t deliver and round we go again

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          You are right, to generate a transfer surplus, we’d need to put £3,000 in each to give a £150m warchest. We’d vote a board in on the basis of shareholding so theoretically, those with the most to lose would vote for the most sensible board.

          What will happen is the investing fans will back a business plan that is most likely, more like the Mike Ashley model.

          • mactoon

            Or alternatively, a fans group could organise an input of cash to Staveley’s bid from fans in exchange for shares in the club. It would take 100,000 fans £500 each to raise the difference needed to reach Ashley’s price.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            That is an option, that would dilute her investors’ stake but doubtful that it would be enough to affect their voting powers.

          • mactoon

            Exactly. It’s a win win, the fans get a stake and involvement in their club and there is also an option for more wealthy/famous fans to put in more money if need be which would also raise the profile. It would be up to Staveley’s group to decide what percentage they wanted the fans to raise and the club would be run by them.

          • mactoon

            *run by Staveley’s group

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Funnily enough, in all her PR efforts, this has not been on the table. I agree, a win-win and giving the option, it negates any moaning from certain fan groups in future i.e. we all had the chance to put our money where our mouth is.

            I like it….. shall we have a sweepstake on how long it takes for Jezza to type “I don’t believe in capitalism so I will have no part in this”

          • mactoon

            I suggested this to the AshleyOut campaign as a way they could actually do something to make a difference. Still waiting for a reply. NUST could also take this on

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I wrote to NUST with a similar suggestion in putting together a fan’s takeover with a view to then flushing out bigger investors. Norman Watson responded suggested they have found it difficult to get interest because of a lack of a willing seller. I disagreed, I think there is a willing seller, there certainly is now.

          • mactoon

            they found it difficult because they haven’t tried to perhaps?

            If Staveley’s bid was £50 million short I bet there would be a fair few interested, if they contacted her to put the idea to her then advertised it to ascertain interest.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I agree, it’s a great idea and should be great PR for her group. However, I suspect she represents a very small number of investors and the haggling over price is just that and it’s not a case of not having the money available. Had she have got the club for £250m, it would have been a steal, i don’t doubt the will go higher but she’s happy to wait until the investment is de-risked.

  • Guest 2

    We have a multi billionaire businessman as an owner – and two 5 year plans which have resulted in two relegation’s, more very close misses and a string of clowns in charge of running the club, signing players and managing the team.
    If it wasn’t for tv revenue and consistently impressive match receipts then the financial side of the club has also deteriorated in the last 11 years.
    Nothing is going to get any better as long as Ashley is around as he is clearly incapable, and not interested, in running NUFC as a competitive football club.

    • Jezza

      Newcastle United are now raking in far more money than at any time in the club’s history yet our transfer spending is at an all time low. In fact it now looks like we are no longer buying players at all and that short term loan deals are the future. That says everything about the way Ashley is running our club.

      • Wezza147

        That’s why it baffles me that the Ashley minions insist he has taken no money from the club.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Because he hasn’t. He took a repayment of a loan he made to the club in 2009 which was used to get us promoted, that is all.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        Utter rubbish Jezza, our spending in the summer was as high as most years pre-Ashley.

        • Wor Lass

          Pre Ashley means over 11 years ago. Are you seriously saying that it`s a good thing that current spending is as high as “most years” prior to that (therefore implying it`s less than some)?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I’ve not analysed all our spending, hence I say ‘most years’ as I know the spend was less in most years. We had a net spend of €33m (including the €9m Merino trigger) and Jezza is claiming our spend is at an all time low.

            Jezza is clearly lying.

          • Stephen Paylor

            net spend of 33 million euros? Im not sure where you have that from? I have it at less than half of that? Did you include Thauvin, Sissoko installment etc?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Thsubin and Sissoko were the previous summer. The figures are from Transfermkt.

          • Jezza

            Don’t feed the troll, marra. Just block him.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            The irony

          • Wor Lass

            Everyone`s a troll to somebody, Jezza. I don`t see the point of blocking anyone – even Clarko! Difference of opinion is what makes these sites interesting.

          • Jezza

            It’s not about differences of opinion. Fleckman AKA ComeAndTakeIt1836, nut etc and his brother Clarko AKA Monkseaton Magpies, ghostbuster, Mark Potter, Mike Adam etc are NOT a Newcastle supporters and they only come on here to deliberately wind us up and provoke a reaction. They do not use this forum to express their opininions they do it to wind people up. That is what makes the two of them trolls.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      That’s nonsense. The financial side has improved dramatically.

  • Milo79

    Why would Ashley put money into a club that has survived quite comfortably in the end? His only incentive is to keep Benitez happy, and when has Ashley ever. Ever bent over backwards for one of his managers. Rafa’s eyes are wide open this time around. He will need ironclad guarantees of the club’s investment strategy and of its ambition. I fear the worst this summer.

    • Jezza

      I agree entirely. Ashley blew his last chance with Rafa in January. After taking a Championship squad to the top half of the Premiership with no money to spend Rafa will not be short of offers this summer. Better run, more ambitious clubs will be queuing up to match his salary and give him a substantial transfer budget. He’s not going to want to turn that down for a continuing cycle of negligible summer spend, relegation danger by Christmas and a reliance of short term January loans to get out of trouble.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        The January window was as good as it gets for a club threatened with relegation. Who do you not like? You said Slimani would not kick a ball for NUFC, that was not true. Kenedy was the best signing by any club in the window and the keeper looks good.

        What’s not to like? Have you ever been supportive of this club?

        • magpie 1969

          and remind me who’s running of the club keeps getting us in these relegation scraps

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            We, along with every club from Everton down were in a relegation scrap. We’d also just been promoted, it may not be sexy but survival in the first season is the aim.

            I still ask, What’s not to like about the January window? I said at the time, it was a good bit of business and had Slimani not had this niggle, we’d be very happy with all three players.

      • Milo79

        Rafa has positioned the club brilliantly to have greater ambitions next season and beyond. The ball is in Mike Ashley’s court now.

    • Angelswithdirtyfaces

      Same here. I think Rafa in his third full season after being let down will need real guarantees not half kept vague promises and I reckon he’ll only stay if he gets some kind of enforceable contractual guarantee.

      • Jezza

        After the way he has been stitched up time and time again, Rafa will want more than guarantees. He’s going to need to see the players he wants signed up at the beginning of the summer.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        We were a team that won the Championship and have since added players to that squad. It’s rather insulting to the players to call them Championship. JJS, Lacelles, Perez, Dummy, Ritchie, LeJuenne are all definitely premier league quality. I also think Gayle, Dubravka and Diame are worthy of a place, Gayle just needs that confidence.

        That’s not to say we don’t need improvement but Mike Ashley does not want to throw anymore of his own personal wealth into the pot. He’s not yet had an offer that simply gives him the money already invested, back.

        The money available will be around the £35m mark, maybe a little more if we finish 8th.

        • Stephen Paylor

          That is incorrect, our premier league gross revenue versus our current costs should be a net profit of more than 70 million. 160 million plus in and maybe 90 million out?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Hmm, not sure of your workings there fella. If the club is generating that much money, I don’t think Stavely’s lot would have hesitated at £300m. A business that generates £70m a year is going to he wirth a lot more than £300m

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Why should he put more money in? He wants out, the only offer he’s had does not match the money he’s put in so why throw more good money after bad?

      Ashley has personally put more money into NUFC than anyone in the history of the club.

      • Milo79

        You give me the awful impression of someone who doesn’t see miracles being performed with a Championship team this season?

  • TheNutJob

    If Fatty leaves in the summer i bet he robs the till on his way out
    😂😂😂

    • Wezza147

      He has been robbing the till for years. 100m to money this season has disappeared!

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        No it hasn’t. What £100m? What do you think happened last year? Money was put in, not taken out.

        • Geordiegiants

          Bobbi money is going somewhere, nobody knows where apart from the privileged few. This club generates enough to be a top 10 spending wise club every single year.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            It’s going somewhere, it goes on running costs or into the bank. There is no privileged few, we can look up on the public record at companies house. It’s all very clear.

            The problem being is people only look at headline figures. I know I have a go at Jezza and LEazes’ but it’s with good reason, Leazes’ at least knows the figures but he lies. It’s all very well saying we took £100m in TV money but the players aren’t running about for free, they want paying. Rafa’s earning £5m a year, his coaching team are costing that again.

            People can go on about the good old days where we were shelling out £18m for Owen, £15m for shearer but in nearly every year, we made losses and as the 2000’s went on, the losses became crippling. That all has to be paid for.

            Someone said we were ahead of Tottenham when Ashley took over so I took a look at thie finances in 2007. We finished 13th, they finishes 5th. They made a profit of £30m, we made a loss of £33m – straight away, in one year, Spurs had £63m more money to play with than us.

          • Stephen Paylor

            at that period in time we had similar gross revenue numbers to spurs and a similarly valued squad

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            No, they didn’t. In 2007, Spurs had bigger revenues, they had £49m assets, made a £30m profit .

            We made a £33m loss, we were technically insolvent.

      • Wezza147

        The 100m TV money. Trolls aren’t fooling anyone if they think it has been spent on running the club. Ridiculous.
        Also the trolls are saying Ashley has spent more on the club than anyone else. Truth is he has taken more out than anyone else.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Trolls? The people asking for evidence, the ones who can provide proof?

          Trolls aren’t making up rubbish, you are kidda. I can’t be bothered to argue with you as I’ll be in Lime st in 10 mins and I’m off for a pre match pint.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Can you explain this “truth” you speak of with reference to the financial records that are available at companies house?

          I’m quite familiar with financial statements but I’ve not seen anything that backs up your claims.

          I’ve not blocked you as I’m open minded to learn, teach me.

  • Alan Pardew

    I don’t want to be finishing seventh or eight every year, and he knows that. He knows what I am like.

    Mike knows me, he knows I have fallen out with chairmen before – that’s because I want to win things.