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Mike Ashley still expecting Rafa Benitez will sign month old take it or leave it offer – Report

2 months ago
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It is now coming up to a month since Rafa Benitez met up with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley in London.

With no public comment coming from either side since that meeting in mid-May.

Some Newcastle fans hoped yesterday that it was meant to be that the 9 June Blaydon Races anniversary would bring positive news on the ownership and/or managerial issue…but the wait continues.

Monday morning brings a new report from The Northern Echo who say that their information is that Newcastle United are not looking into any alternatives to Rafa Benitez.

Instead, they say that Mike Ashley still expects Rafa Benitez to sign the much talked about take it or leave it new contract offer made a month ago.

As the gap widens since that post-season London summit and the gap shortens to the Premier League fixtures coming out (three days) the end of Rafa’s contract (three weeks), pre-season training starting (under four weeks), the NUFC squad heading off to China (less than five weeks), transfer window ending (just over eight weeks) and the new season starting (less than nine weeks), Newcastle fans are understandably getting ever more desperate to hear about positive progress.

However, I doubt very much now whether many/any Newcastle fans honestly believe that Rafa Benitez signing a new contract for Mike Ashley, that includes few if any changes in how the club is set up, is the positive progress anybody sees happening.

For my money, I think an overwhelming number of supporters simply see it as an all or nothing scenario.

Either new owners come in with ambitious plans and Rafa Benitez is convinced to stay on with the belief he can now progress the team/club.

Or alternatively, the takeover doesn’t happen, for whatever reason, and Rafa Benitez walks away as he knows he is wasting his time having to operate under Mike Ashley’s ‘model’ of running a football club.

I just don’t get this picture in my head of Rafa Benitez currently relaxing back at home in the north west with his family and dogs, scratching his chin and contemplating tying himself to Mike Ashley for a moment longer.

Another interesting factor to add to the mix for Newcastle fans is that an announcement on season ticket prices for next season is surely imminent (released on 1 June in 2017 and 14 June in 2018), nobody having a clue what they would/will be signing up for as things currently stand.

Mention of Rafa possibly going to Roma is a but outdated as well, with Italian media widely reporting that Paulo Fonseca is imminently set to be named as their new boss.

The Northern Echo report:

‘The Newcastle hierarchy submitted a formal contract offer to Benitez in mid-May, and are adamant they will not be entering into new discussions even though the 59-year-old is due to become a free agent on June 30.

Benitez has always insisted he would ideally like to remain at St James’ Park, but a number of his concerns at Newcastle’s long-term transfer plans remain unaddressed.

The Magpies’ summer transfer budget is understood to be around £60m, plus anything raised by player sales, although this sum encompasses wages, agents’ payments and loan agreements as well as transfer fees.

Of equal concern is Ashley’s insistence that there will not be any fundamental changes to the way Newcastle currently conduct their business. Benitez will have to run all prospective deals past Ashley via Charnley, a process that has resulted in a series of log-jams in the past and which Benitez blames for missing out on a number of leading targets.

Ashley and Charnley remain confident Benitez will eventually sign a new deal, and sources claim the duo are not concerned at speculation linking the former Champions League winner with a possible move to Italian side Roma.

As a result, they have not approached anyone else to be manager and do not intend to put detailed back-up plans in place ahead of this month’s contractual deadline.

That creates the worrying prospect of Newcastle being left in the lurch if Benitez delays his decision for another couple of weeks before deciding to head elsewhere.

In such a scenario, it could be the middle of July before the Magpies appoint the Spaniard’s successor, by which time their players will already have returned to pre-season training ahead of their trip to the Premier League Asia Cup.’

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