Newcastle United now confirm that Mike Ashley misled Rafa Benitez
Mike Ashley is now in his final days at Newcastle United, hopefully.
The NUFC takeover still with the Premier League, fans waiting for their process to be completed and new club ownership confirmed.
If anybody ever seriously doubted why Newcastle United need Mike Ashley to depart, the club themselves actually provided the clearest of reasons on Friday.
In the immediate aftermath of beating Chelsea 3-0 on the final day of the 2017/18 season, the club released a statement (see below) from the owner as fans were still celebrating that Sunday win at home.
Mike Ashley saying in the statement: ‘Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him.’
It was time for actions to speak louder than words and for Mike Ashley to convince Rafa Benitez to sign a new contract, however, the Newcastle fans saw this for what it was, a desperate PR gesture by the owner, to try and make it appear he was willing to do the right thing. All part of the process of trying to make it look like it wasn’t Ashley’s fault when he forced Rafa out of Newcastle, the manager with one season left on his contract and making clear that things needed to change, that the owner had to start delivering on his promises, both in terms of investment in the playing squad and the rest of the club, the Academy, the state of the art training complex promised in 2013 and so on.
Sure enough, yesterday the club showed us the final proof of what is mentioned above. Mike Ashley finally making public the Newcastle United accounts for the 2018/19 season, the very last Premier League club to publish their accounts, having exploited a government loophole to delay publishing them.
These 2018/19 official NUFC accounts show a number of things but in regard to Mike Ashley’s promises to Rafa Benitez, a few things stand out in particular:
Turnover fell by £2.1m – From £178.5m in 2017/18 to £176.4m in 2018/19
Club profits after tax went up by £16.1m – From £18.6m in 2017/18 to £34.7m in 2018/19
Profit on transfers in and out went up by £21.0m – From £3.6m in 2017/18 to £24.6m in 2018/19
A reminder, Mike Ashley promised Rafa Benitez ‘every penny’ and his ‘full support’ for the 2018/19 season.
The reality though is that instead Ashley refused to allow the manager a single penny of net spend on players and in actual fact, instead insisted on a profit of £24.6m on transfers in and out.
The NUFC owner did everything he could to thwart Rafa Benitez in his transfer dealings, rather than ‘full support’ it was the exact opposite.
Indeed, rather than backing Rafa with ‘every penny’, Ashley instead had the club making an overall very sizeable profit of £34.7m in 2018/19.
Nobody can even try to claim that this was due to unforeseen higher revenues because the turnover actually fell! Falling by £2.1m in 2018/19 compared to 2017/18.
This in’t an ‘accidental’ significant profit, it came about on purpose through Mike Ashley refusing to back Rafa Benitez because he wouldn’t do what Ashley wanted him to do.
If you remember, we learnt this after Rafa’s departure, from Mike Ashley himself.
Ashley said he was determined to sign Joelinton (whatever the real reasons were for that, we still don’t know) and that in February 2019 he (Ashley) had a deal agreed to buy him from Hoffenheim, only for Rafa Benitez to agree to the transfer, at the time Rafa had the power to say no to a signing, even though he had no power to buy anybody if Mike Ashley blocked it.
So looking back now, it is easy to see that the money was there in 2018/19 to pay £40m for Joelintion, with that £34.7m profit after tax showing that clearly, enough to almost on its own cover the entire transfer fee in one full up front payment.
What that also makes clear, is that Mike Ashley deliberately starved Rafa Benitez of transfer funds and what a remarkable job he (Rafa) did in his final season after being treated so abysmally by the club’s owner.
The one concession was the signing of Miguel Almiron on the very final day of the January 2019 transfer window, he only arrived in time to make nine Premier League starts that season but just that one bit of help in the transfer market, helped Rafa finish his final season at St James Park with the fifth best form in the Premier League across the final 16 games and the team scoring the fifth highest total of goals in those 16 matches.
Almiron’s agent said that the move very nearly didn’t happen and only did so because late on Atlanta United agreed to drop the transfer fee.
If they hadn’t done so, the NUFC profits on transfers in and out in 2018/19 would have been well over £40m without Almiron signing and the overall club profits after tax, more than £50m.
Mike Ashley needed to not only back Rafa in the transfer market but also give him total freedom, instead of playing games and blocking deals.
Instead, summer 2018 saw Rafa Benitez treated to simply more of the same, only even worse.
Mike Ashley making it as difficult as possible for Rafa to even do loan deals. Salomon Rondon’s arrival delayed until the very final stages of the transfer window AND Rafa having to agree to Gayle going out on loan, even to get Rondon in on a temporary deal.
Mike Ashley can’t be trusted, simple as.
Official Mike Ashley Announcement via Newcastle United – 13 May 2018:
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has thanked Rafa Benítez, the players and the club’s supporters following the club’s tenth-place finish in the Premier League.
The Magpies secured a place in the top half with a 3-0 victory over Chelsea at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
The owner said:
“I would like to thank Rafa Benitez for his magnificent achievement this season.
“I would also like to applaud the players, led fantastically by the captain Jamaal Lascelles.
“On many occasions throughout the season they have been described as a Championship side, which I personally consider to be derogatory.
“Rafa, as always, has my full support, and contrary to some media reports that portray me as a pantomime villain, I will continue to ensure that every penny generated by the club is available to him.
“I hope very much that Rafa will remain at Newcastle United.
“Finally, I would like to thank the fans for their unrivalled support of Rafa and the team throughout the season.”
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