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Mike Ashley makes final take it or leave it offer to Rafa Benitez – Report

5 months ago
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It was a surprise to pretty much everybody when eight days ago, the Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez situation became only the second most issue for Newcastle fans.

That story from The Sun putting a potential sale of the club to the top of the agenda.

Since that point, most headlines have focused on what is or isn’t happening between Mike Ashley and the Bin Zayed Group.

Although the news only broke on 26 May, official statements from the Bin Zayed Group Managing Director, Midhat Kidwai, claimed that talks had been going on for far longer, with indeed Kidwai stating that Proof of Funds had been provided to Mike Ashley as far back as 17 April 2019.

Rafa Benitez has spent most of the past week in Madrid, speaking to media around the Champions League final.

In various interviews he was also asked about both his contract and the takeover situation at Newcastle but tended to play it with a straight bat. One of the later interviews reported over the weekend though saw ITV News say: “Interesting chat with Rafa Benitez. He’s still in the dark about his future at Newcastle and any takeover bid.”

Whilst some claims in the Italian media were a little bit more excitable, claiming Rafa Benitez had indicated he could be interested in a return to Serie A, whereas the reality is probably more along the lines of Rafa being polite with everybody and those remarks being interpreted in a way to make a ‘better’ story. Even the ITV News report (with a journalist based in Scotland…) had quotes from Rafa Benitez saying he hadn’t been interested in a move to Celtic this summer but that could change in the future, saying the right things as always.

However, late Monday afternoon has brought an interesting new claim.

The Chronicle reporting that their information is that Mike Ashley has made a take it or leave it offer to Rafa Benitez.

That there are no more meetings planned and it is now simply down to the manager as to whether or not he is prepared to work under the terms the club’s owner has offered.

If this report is on the mark, the fact that agreement still hasn’t been reached up to this point will be an even bigger concern.

With the first face to face talks between Rafa and Ashley not taking place until 16 May, Newcastle fans had hoped that this suggested work had gone on behind the scenes and it would be simply a formality to announce a new deal after that  meeting.

However, we are now 18 days after that meeting in London with no word as yet, whilst we have also reached the point of only 27 days until the end of the current contract.

The length of the time for the contract to run is surely not a concern though, as surely if Rafa Benitez is going to remain manager then it will be decided before the end of June, as the small matter of the transfer window and preparations for next season need to be kicking off well before that point.

The Chronicle report:

‘Talks between Newcastle and Benitez are now believed to be concluded and it is now down to the former Liverpool boss to decide whether he can work with the terms offered.

It is understood that United are now waiting for Benitez to get back to him with a final answer.’

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