Things are going from bad to worse under Mike Ashley in this pre-season.
Yet again there has been zero investment in the training ground, the Academy, St James Park, and of course no net investment in the first team squad, transfers currently showing tens of millions of pounds in credit this summer.
Last night, Rafa Benitez went public with how bad things are on the transfer front and how he has been let down. Holding out little hope that he expects the club to properly deliver on transfers in the remaining week of the window.
After the 4-0 hammering by Braga, the Newcastle players refused to speak to the media.
At the time it was believed to be simply due to disappointment at the defeat and general situation at the club.
However, on Thursday morning it has been revealed that it is due to the players being in dispute with Mike Ashley.
Last summer we saw a long drawn out farce with the Newcastle United owner refusing to agree to the going rate on squad bonuses, not wanting to agree to the same kind of deal that players had at rival clubs.
It eventually took a phone conversation between captain Jamaal Lascelles and Mike Ashley for it to be sorted (see below), the dispute not settled until a month into the season in mid-September.
The newspaper add that the Newcastle players even refused to speak to the club’s official TV channel and website last night.
This club operates in such a cheap, embarrassing and haphazard way, you would almost think it was owned by whoever is in charge at Sports Direct…
The Mag – 13 September 2017:
Mike Ashley once again released a PR ‘exclusive’ through Sky Sports at the weekend.
The story being that the NUFC owner would ‘donate £20m’ to the Newcastle players if they win the FA Cup this season.
This leading to much amusement at what other unrealistic bonuses could be offered, such as winning the Premier League, or the Champions League, or the Great North Run before scoring a double hat-trick at Swansea.
This PR announcement came against a backdrop of a row that had lasted all summer, with Mike Ashley having offered the Newcastle players a bonus scheme for this Premier League season that was way below what rival clubs have incentivised players with.
The offer on the table was £1m if they finished 17th and avoided relegation, which worked out on average at less than a week’s wages for each player.
That amount would then increase by £1m for every position above 17th.
The Newcastle players though were refusing to accept less than their rivals and a month into the season there was still no agreement.
However, agreement has now been reached.
Miles Starforth (of the Shields Gazette) has had the inside track on this story from the start and he has revealed that a phone conversation between Mike Ashley and Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles saw the bonus scheme eventually agreed.
On Wednesday morning he reports that the agreed deal is the same as what was on offer previously but that Newcastle players will share £4m if they avoid relegation in 17th place and then still an additional £1m for every position higher.
The Premier League payout at the end of the season sees the 20th placed club get £1.9m extra for finishing bottom, then for each place above they get an extra £1.9m.
So roughly speaking, Mike Ashley and the Newcastle players have agreed that the squad will receive half of the extra money the club receive depending on their position…plus the £20m for winning the FA Cup.
Now the players would receive the same £20m if they win the Premier League (cough cough) as they would the FA Cup.
I would happily settle for either…