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Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez talks could continue towards June – Report

3 weeks ago
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It is now a week since Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley met at an unknown London venue, to supposedly hammer out an agreement on a new contract.

A lot of scepticism/cynicism as fans asked why it had taken this long to even have a chat.

Why not any time previously during the manager’s three year contract, why not when team realistically safe from relegation in March, why not once mathematically safe in April, why not the final home game weekend against Liverpool, why not the final away game weekend at Fulham…?

However, once they did meet on Thursday 16 May, this surely then must be just to rubber stamp and shake hands on all the advanced work and preparation by people representing the two sides.

Apparently not.

What adds to the strangeness of the whole thing is that now Newcastle fans aren’t even anticipating there will be news any minute/any day.

Instead, they just see it as madness that could stretch on for who knows how long.

Now we have The Guardian reporting that their understanding is that there is no imminent announcement expected, with still ‘significant sticking points and the haggling could now stretch into next week.’

The report adds that even if progress is made at a distance (by phone and email), they expect there to be at least one more face to face meeting and for Rafa Benitez to then ave ‘written guarantees of all promises’ from Mike Ashley.

Presumably written in blood.

If/when the delay/’talks’ do stretch into next week, we stand then every chance of heading into June (next Saturday is 1 June) with still no manager in place and by association, certainly no new players signed.

Amongst the various football and non-football events we have seen whilst Mike Ashley continues to resist doing what is necessary to retain Rafa Benitez, show some ambition and prevent NUFC falling completely apart, again. You can list the likes of…

The Premier League transfer window opened.

Brighton sacking a manager and appointing a new one.

The European elections.

Norwich City have made loan arrangements set against next season’s guaranteed Premier League income, so they can buy players ASAP.

Gateshead fans seeing their club killed off only for the supporters to then buy it.

Sunderland getting to Wembley for a second time this season.

Likes of Wolves and Bournemouth agreeing deals for players, as well as every other club making moves to strengthen.

What more could happen before any resolution from Mike Ashley on the Rafa Benitez contract situation, here are a few landmarks…

Friday 24 May – Theresa May rumoured to be resigning as PM.

Sunday 26 May – Sunderland losing for a second time at Wembley this season.

Monday 27 May – Either Derby or Aston Villa finding out they are a Premier League club and immediately making moves towards strengthening the team/squad.

Wednesday 29 May – Europa League final.

Saturday 1 June – Champions League final.

Saturday 8 June – FIFA transfer window open and overseas signings can formally go through.

Thurday 13 June – Premier League fixtures released.

Sunday 30 June – Rafa Benitez three year contract ends.

Tuesday 2 July – Newcastle squad return for pre-season.

Absolutely none of this Mike Ashley orchestrated mess makes any sense. That is why it is so difficult to try finding any rational explanation for the owner not having got on and sorted it a long long time ago, never mind when we reach today, the 12th anniversary of when this blight first took hold of Newcastle United.

Will Newcastle have a manager in place before Brexit is sorted? It’s a tough one.

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