Mike Ashley and Rafa Benitez sit down for pizza with Newcastle's players

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.
Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

Mike Ashley has taken Rafa Benitez and his players out for an Italian meal.

Ashley, Benitez and the club's players were photographed arriving at a restaurant in Ponteland this evening.

The club's owner had pledged to take them out after watching Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Leicester City at St James's Park.

There was another protest against Ashley before the game.

Newcastle are 18th in the Premier League table ahead of Saturday's game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

It is the first time that manager Benitez has met Ashley since the summer, when they sat down for talks over a transfer budget and new deal.

However, they couldn't come to an agreement and Benitez – whose contract runs to the end of the season – was forced to sell to buy in the summer transfer window.

United managing director Lee Charnley has been attempting to bring Ashley and Benitez closer together.

The players arrived too late to take advantage of the restaurant's £5.95 happy hour.

Newcastle reportedly booked a function room at the eaterie.