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Opinion

If this Rafa Benitez contract is true, why wouldn’t he sign it?

6 months ago
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It’s all gone quiet on the Newcastle United takeover front hasn’t it?

Wasn’t it supposed to be all a done deal? Instead of welcoming new owners, fans and media are still fishing for information regarding the contract of Rafa Benitez, one which runs out in just 19 days time.

It’s an unbelievable situation to be in that not only has a transfer window been significantly eaten into without progress, but even the manager isn’t in place for next season, let alone players to push Newcastle United on.

I laugh when I read reports linking the club with this player and that player at the best of times, as until a player is pictured in a Toon shirt in front of the East Stand I’ll take them with a pinch of salt. Only a small percentage of speculated  transfers actually happen anyway, but when the club hasn’t got a manager tied down…? It’s stretching it on the part of journalists to feed such nonsense out and have people believe them.

If the rumour is true and Rafa Benitez has had a contract waiting to be signed for the last month and it’s supposedly a (very familiar) ‘take it or leave it’ kind of offer from Mike Ashley, the question I’ve been asking myself is why would he NOT sign it?

Now the following is merely my speculation but picture the offer. You’ve got a contract in front of you that reads something like this:

Basic Salary: £6m a year.*

Length of contract: 3 years**

Transfer budget: £60m which can be supplemented by player sales***

*His current reported rate

**A standard contract length

***As reported by The Chronicle.

There is probably a bonus related to where the team finish in the league and there may be a bonus for winning a cup. If the owner’s aim is to merely survive then those bonuses are not really worth a light anyway. You could offer a collective £20m to the players and management for winning the FA Cup but if you don’t build a team capable of doing so then so what?

If Rafa Benitez was offered anywhere close to those terms above, which are not unreasonable for both parties, I’m sure most fans would be quite happy. I know I would. You’re always going to get the odd fan that wants £150m every season to spend but I’m sure even Rafa isn’t wanting or expecting that in his contract talks.

Again, I’ll ask the question ‘Why would he NOT sign what’s on offer?’

I’ll tell you why, the terms as I’ve detailed above are simply not the terms on offer and to reject such a decent offer like that or similar, must mean that the terms are significantly worse.

If Rafa was given the speculated £60m transfer ‘war chest’ and allowed to add funds from probable departures in Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie to the pot, you can come to a round about figure of £100m to spend. Again, why would a manager reject that? In short, he wouldn’t. So you can only speculate on what kind of poor ‘take it or leave it’ offer has been cobbled together by Ashley and Managing Director Lee Charnley.

Judging by past histories, the offer is likely to have caveats and conditions attached to it, such as £60m being over a couple of transfer windows and encasing every aspect of said transfers including agents fees, wages and so forth. There will highly likely be no movement on the club’s transfer policy of buying young players with sell on value either, so that would rule out signing Salomon Rondon.

You can never take anything offered by this current regime at face value. Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer found that out and since coming to the club in 2016, so has Rafa Benitez, despite trying to barter down conditions on offer which is best for Newcastle United.

But wait, there is a takeover imminent. Rubbish! What has that got to do with Rafa’s contract? Well put simply, if there WAS a takeover imminent, Rafa Benitez’s contract would have been signed as he would certainly be afforded far more luxurious conditions in the transfer market, he would probably be promised academy and training ground upgrades and if as a flip side to that any new owners didn’t want him, Rafa would get the biggest and quickest pay off in management history.

If this takeover is real, then there would be no contract offer on the table, why would there be as it wouldn’t be Mike Ashley’s problem to sort. It would actually be better for a new owner to come in and have a clear run at things. Rafa would still be available and would just wait for the new owners to contact HIM, not the other way around.

It would take an unbelievable leap of faith for 40,000+ fans to commit to renewing their season tickets under the current uncertain climate at the club. If there is a takeover they will be gold dust, if there isn’t and Rafa hasn’t signed his own ‘season ticket’, then the season will be under a cloud before it’s even begun.

Either way, I’m getting less and less confident with each passing day of Rafa Benitez still being manager when we kick off again in August. There’s simply no evidence, past or present, to suggest he will be…

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