Mike Ashley 'strongly rejects' claims after Newcastle fans confront him outside restaurant

Mike Ashley his denied claims he swore at Newcastle United fans outside a restaurant.

The club's owner took Rafa Benitez and his players out for an Italian meal last night.

Members of The Magpie Group went to the Ponteland restaurant after hearing from MPs Chi Onwurah and Ian Mearns at a public meeting, attended by more than 400 fans, earlier in the evening.

They were waiting outside when Ashley was escorted to a waiting car.

Video footage circulated on social media appears to show Ashley raising two fingers after getting into the car.

However, a club spokesperson said Ashley "strongly rejected" claims that he swore at fans.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley.

The Magpie Group, formed by a network of supporters' groups in the summer, say their protest outside the restaurant was "small and peaceful".

A statement from the group, which wants Ashley to sell the club, read: "Mike Ashley responded by slyly sticking two fingers up to the waiting Newcastle fans.

"Mike Ashley holds the city of Newcastle and the fans of Newcastle United in utter contempt.

"If you didn’t know that already then after this evening you do. We must all come together to drive him out of our football club.

Mike Ashley after getting into a car outside the Italian restaurant.

Mike Ashley after getting into a car outside the Italian restaurant.

"Mike Ashley is one man, we are a city. If you love United, stand united."

Ashley pledged to take Benitez and his squad out after watching Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Leicester City at St James's Park.

The result left the club, without a win so far this season, 18th in the Premier League ahead of Saturday's game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.