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Crushing Newcastle United takeover update and Rafa Benitez ‘Almost Gone’ – The Times

1 year ago
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An update on the Newcastle United Takeover and Rafa Benitez’ position on Friday night.

The update coming from George Caulkin at The Times.

If you were wanting sugar coated blind optimism then maybe best to look away now.

The Times’ very reliable man in the north east delivering an honest but brutal update.

When it comes to the manager, George Caulkin says: ‘Benítez has one hand on the exit and trust has already left the building…Benítez is going, going and almost gone.’

Caulkin states that after the infamous meeting with Mike Ashley and Lee Charney on 16 May in London, Rafa Benitez was offered a one year deal with no ‘structural improvements’, with no change on key areas such as transfer budget and freedom as to how it is spent.

Only nine days until Rafa’s contract is up and only 13 days until Newcastle’s players are back for pre-season preparations, with Newcastle fans hoping that the much talked about takeover can provide a total change in how things are done at the club.

However, on the Newcastle United Takeover front as well, there is little/zero positivity.

George Caulkin says that the Bin Zayed Group aren’t even in a position of having an ‘exclusivity agreement’ signed up with Mike Ashley to buy the club, a takeover understood to be nowhere near close, if indeed it is to happen at all. The man from The Times adds that two other potential buyers claim they are trying to do so but whatever the truth of that, certainly neither of them are at  a position of ‘exclusivity’ either.

Mr Caulkin describes Mike Ashley as a ‘baffling owner’, that is certainly one way of putting it although I’m sure you can instantly think of a few others that are more fitting…

George Caulkin writing in The Times – 21 June 2019:

‘The story of Newcastle United’s summer is one of stasis and, as things stand, there will not be a happy ending, not as far as Rafa Benítez is concerned…Benítez has one hand on the exit and trust has already left the building.

The backdrop to this story is both simple and complicated, featuring a dysfunctional club with a baffling owner in Mike Ashley; one of the best, most ambitious coaches of his generation; fractured relationships and a tortuous takeover saga which has delayed and disrupted everything. Once again, Newcastle find themselves on a precipice and, once again, nobody has pushed them there. They teeter and wobble, much of it their own doing.

Even with that context, it seems incomprehensible that Newcastle could have reached this point. Three years on from the 59-year-old’s arrival on Tyneside, when he spoke about an ailing club’s history and stature, Benítez is adored by supporters, hauling an honest team back from the Sky Bet Championship at the first attempt and then, with minimal investment, twice keeping them in the Premier League.

The Spaniard has never sought to leave. Quite the opposite. He has forged a deep connection with the city in a manner reminiscent of his time at Liverpool, where he won the Champions League and where his family are still based. All he has pushed for is a chance; to compete with clubs in the upper half of the Premier League, if not in terms of spending, then in ambition, speed of movement, growth of infrastructure. “We must do things right,” has become his mantra.

When Benítez met Ashley and Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, in London in the week after the end of the season, there was some optimism about a compromise being reached. A one-year extension appeared the most practical solution, giving Benítez an early get-out if the club failed to deliver and giving Ashley and Charnley some breathing space and then a chance to renegotiate.

Progress since then has been interminable and when an offer came — one year, on the same £6 million annual wage and with none of the structural improvements that Benítez had originally asked for…if they are not prepared to invest in other areas, surely his obsessive efforts to improve the team could be rewarded? Is that not the easy bit?

The complexities of Newcastle’s “takeover” are dense, but almost a month on from the Bin Zayed group’s emergence, the club remains in Ashley’s hands. No exclusivity agreement has been signed and at least two other bidders (one of which is known to The Times), claim to be in the running, and at varying stages of progress. Discussions are being handled by Justin Barnes, Ashley’s Sports Direct fixer.

He (Rafa Benitez) has asked for clarity and none has been forthcoming, in part because nobody really understands what will happen next.

None of it has been authoritative and the clock is ticking down; how can he commit to something — anything — so uncertain? 

It is the end game now and although this could still be the summer when Ashley finally leaves, there may be a hefty price to pay. Benítez is going, going and almost gone.’

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