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Opinion

Mike Ashley sending Newcastle United players to Las Vegas and Rafa Benitez to Coventry?

4 weeks ago
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The Newcastle United players finally made absolutely sure of safety last weekend.

A 3-1 victory over Southampton, paired with Cardiff’s loss to Liverpool, means that NUFC are mathematically safe.

Thoughts turning now to the summer and beyond.

An interesting one from The Mail (see below), as they have revisited October’s infamous Ponteland Pizza outing.

Mike Ashley travelling up for a midweek outing with Rafa Benitez and the Newcastle United players.

At the time it was reported that the club’s owner had promised the squad an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas, if they recovered from their poor start and stayed up (back when they were having the meal in October, Newcastle still hadn’t won a game…).

The newspaper reporting now that despite safety now secured, and in reality that has been the case for a couple of weeks or so, the Newcastle United players are still waiting on details of their Las Vegas trip.

Maybe they should have got it in writing judged by how often Mike Ashley has been involved in legal disputes concerning alleged verbal contracts, especially when claimed to have happened in a social environment…

More pressing are concerns that Mike Ashley is still intent on sending Rafa Benitez to Coventry(***).

The Newcastle boss recently revealed that Mike Ashley had asked him in March to send through his conditions that needed to be met before he’d agree to sign a new contract, Rafa Benitez also revealing that over three weeks later he still hadn’t even had a reply. We are now over a month since Rafa sent through those conditions and with only 17 days until the final match of the season, still no sign of any progress, or indeed any real intention that Ashley is going to try and persuade the Spaniard to stay on.

As usual, the question everybody will want to ask at Friday’s pre-Brighton press conference, is whether Rafa has heard from Mike Ashley about the new contract, rather than the match itself.

(***’To send someone to Coventry is an English idiom meaning to deliberately ostracise someone. Typically, this is done by not talking to them, avoiding their company, and acting as if they no longer exist. Victims are treated as though they are completely invisible and inaudible.’)

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The Mail report:

‘Newcastle United’s players are waiting to hear if Mike Ashley will keep his promise of an end-of-season holiday to Las Vegas as reward for Premier League survival.

Sportsmail revealed in October that the owner had told the players he would fund a squad getaway should they recover from their poor start and renew their top-flight status.

Ashley used the incentive during a pizza-pasta summit with Rafa Benitez and his players after the team had taken just two points from seven matches. We understand the destination discussed was Las Vegas as they dined at Rialto’s in Ponteland.

Newcastle are now safe after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Southampton took them to 41 points, but there has been no mention of the Vegas trip.

We have also been told that some players have already booked family holidays. Others, though, are still hoping that Ashley is good to his word and foots the bill for a Stateside vacation.

Any such reward would have to be declared with the Premier League, who insist on all bonus schemes being made known to them as a matter of integrity.’

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