Ashley Stories Don't Ring True

A REPORT FROM THE MAG ....

I read an interesting article this morning, saying that Mike Ashley had given Rafa Benitez ‘the licence to spend’ in this summer’s transfer window.

The report also said that in terms of how much transfer cash, Rafa would get a ‘fair amount’ of the £80m-£120m Newcastle will get from this season’s TV/PL placing cash, plus ‘money generated from player sales’.

The Chronicle also added that Mike Ashley is ‘relaxed’ about Rafa’s contract position and will offer him a new deal sometime this summer.

Now I have no doubt that The Chronicle haven’t just invented all of this and that somebody from the club/Ashley’s people, have given the local newspaper a steer on all of this.

So does that make the claims of Rafa having a ‘licence to spend’ any more believable?

Well, funnily enough, this article had me having a distinct feeling of deja vu, I was sure I had read something very similar but couldn’t remember where/when.

It took a while but eventually came across the piece I had in mind, from almost exactly a year ago, also in The Chronicle!

Back on 10 May 2017, The Chronicle piece read: ‘It is believed that Benitez should be able to spend between £90-£100million when the transfer window opens. The Magpies boss was given the green light to get summer transfer work under way by Mike Ashley after a “positive” round of talks with the billionaire tycoon.’

It is amazing how quickly a green light changes to red these days!

Those ‘positive’ talks that Rafa Benitez had with Mike Ashley didn’t translate into action, with the manager repeatedly saying that ‘promises’ hadn’t been kept by the club’s owner.

Instead of £100m there was only around £30m spent last summer, with much of that cash that was brought in by the sales of Thauvin, de Jong, Hanley and Murphy.

After the job Rafa Benitez has done this season on a relative pittance, we all fear that it will be more of the same this time, Mike Ashley making promises that aren’t kept and gambling that Rafa won’t walk out – the manager willing to stay and perform more minor miracles in keeping Newcastle United in the Premier League on as little transfer spend as possible.

It will be interesting to revisit this after the transfer window closes in early August – hopefully with Rafa still in place and having spent £100m+…

Here are the two article mentioned, one from last night and the other just short of 12 months earlier.

25 April 2018 – The Chronicle:

Newcastle United preparing to hand Rafa Benitez the licence to spend – and a new deal

The Magpies are relaxed about the future of Rafa Benitez but are yet to sit down and agree his future.

Rafa Benitez is expected to get the green light for shopping spree from Mike Ashley this summer – but the club hierarchy want to continue living within their means.

It is believed that a new contract offer is also set to be on the table for Benitez and Ashley is relaxed about his manager’s future, despite having just one year left on his current deal.

Talks between both parties are yet to commence but United sources are confident that they can arrive at a positive outcome this summer.

Understandably, the Magpies will not go public on how much they have to spend in the next window as they don’t want to alert competitors on their available transfer funds.

However, after guiding the club to Premier League safety in their first season back in the top flight Rafa Benitez will be trusted with funds to help the club grow again next season.

United should bank around £80-£120million from TV revenue and prize money for finishing in mid-table with Benitez expected to get a fair portion of that sum – along with money generated from player sales.

But Ashley will stick to his policy of not taking risks and the danger of overspending in the next few months.

Last summer Ashley told Sky Sports: “I must make it crystal clear that I am not wealthy enough in football now to compete with the likes of Man City etcetera, not just Man City.

“It’s basically a wealthy individual taking on the equivalent of a country.

“I cannot, and will not.”

But the club will look to provide Benitez with funding to improve the squad, along with any extra income he can generate by rejigging the squad.


10 May 2017 – Chronicle:

Rafa Benitez could be handed a transfer kitty of up to £100million this summer.

United are yet to discover their operating costs for the season ahead but it is believed that Benitez should be able to spend between £90-£100million when the transfer window opens.

The Magpies boss was given the green light to get summer transfer work under way by Mike Ashley after a “positive” round of talks with the billionaire tycoon.

Former Real Madrid boss Benitez has been told he will get money to spend from funds generated from the club’s promotion from the Sky Bet Championship plus cash banked from players sales.

In a rare statement Newcastle owner Ashley said: “I have confirmed to Rafa and Lee that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means”

Benitez, who started talks with Ashley yesterday, said after the meeting: “There will be challenges ahead of course, the summer will not be easy, but the hard work has been going on for some time and we can now continue positively with the development of the squad ahead of the start of the new season.

“I wish the fans an enjoyable summer!

“I’m pleased with how the meeting went and the positive approach we are all taking together to build on what we have started.”