Mike Ashley has held talks in London with those who he trusts to look after Newcastle United on his behalf.
With the club’s owner now in a very comfortable position thanks to Rafa Benitez delivering Premier League safety on a minimal net spend, things could hardly have worked out better for Ashley.
The Chronicle say that Mike Ashley met Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop to discuss Newcastle United.
Whilst Lee Charnley is the only officially named person in a position of (alleged) authority, it is Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop who wield the power at NUFC on Ashley’s behalf.
The report says that Ashley met his people after ‘four rounds of talks between Benitez’ agent and legal team and the club’ got nowhere.
The Chronicle then go on to say however, that Ashley has made clear it is Lee Charnley’s responsibility to try and convince Rafa Benitez to extend his contract.
This is just yet another reminder of what a joke the running of Newcastle United is, nothing is ever done with any transparency, and a lot of smoke and mirrors.
Normal clubs have a highly paid Chief Executive/Managing Director, who heads up a high quality management team, with a board of directors sitting above/alongside that to steer the club on its overall strategy. That CEO/MD given the responsibility to run the club on behalf of the owner.
Instead Mike Ashley has Lee Charnley as the only director at NUFC, the only named senior management figure, whose chief role appears to be to take the blame instead of Ashley, when things go wrong, yet again.
Such as….if it gets to the point where Rafa Benitez has had enough. Then the club’s PR line will be trying to make out that just like when signings aren’t made, it is Lee Charnley’s incompetence that is responsible for the manager not agreeing to stay, rather than Mike Ashley refusing to run the club in a decent and ambitious way.
Does anybody though actually believe that Lee Charnley has the power to wheel and deal at the club, to be the one to properly negotiate with Rafa Benitez and his people? Charnley is the worst paid CEO/MD in the Premier League, receiving £150,000 a year compared to others such as those at Arsenal earning £2m+, whilst Sunderland’s Martin Bain was getting £1.2m before his recent departure.
If Mike Ashley wants the likes of Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop running Newcastle United on his behalf, as he clearly does, why not make them official named members of staff and/or directors, and have them communicate openly with the media, rather than the current charade of putting up Lee Charnley as supposedly wielding the power?
Whilst we seem to say it every summer, this one does really feel like the club is at a crossroads, where the fans can see the clear direction where we need to head.
That is the Rafa Benitez direction and if Ashley takes us in any other direction then all optimism will disappear.