Mike Ashley planning 'dinner date' with Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle players

Mike Ashley will take Rafa Benitez and his players out for dinner, according to a report.

The Daily Mail claim that Newcastle United's owner is planning an evening out with Benitez and his players this week.

Ashley was at St James's Park for Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Leicester City. The loss has left the club third-bottom of the Premier League.

Fans, unhappy with years of under-investment, chanted against Ashley before and during the game.

There was a protest outside the club shop before kick-off time, and the match itself was punctuated by chants for him to "get out of our club".

The Daily Mail also report that managing director Lee Charnley has been trying to bring Ashley and Benitez closer together.

Mike Ashley.

Mike Ashley.

Benitez, forced to sell to buy in the summer, is in the final year of his United contract and the 58-year-old will not commit to a new deal unless he feels the club can match his ambitions.

Ashley put the club up for sale a year ago.

And it emerged before the game that former Chelsea and Manchester United chief executive Peter Kenyon was looking to find investors willing to fund a takeover.