Why Mike Ashley MUST listen to Rafa Benitez at Newcastle – before it’s too late

Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez. Picture by Frank Reid

Sell! Sell! Sell!

There aren’t too many Newcastle United who haven’t wanted Mike Ashley to sell up.

After all, the team has been relegated twice under Ashley’s ownership.

It has been crippled by under-investment, and the team’s fortunes over the past 10 years have reflected Ashley’s attitude to the the club.

To him, it’s a business, not a club.

And he has not been prepared to indulge the club’s huge fanbase.

To fans, it’s a proud institution. It carries the hopes and dreams of Tyneside.

Supporters, however, haven’t been allowed to dream under Ashley, who this week walked away from talks with would-be buyer Amanda Staveley, who tabled a £250million offer for the club in November.

Ashley wanted more money.

That’s his prerogative. It’s his to sell or keep.

A source close to the billionaire labelled discussions with Staveley, a Dubai-based financier, and PCP Capital Partners, as a “waste of time”.

Staveley, unknown on Tyneside before her appearance at St James’s Park for Liverpool’s visit in October, has been touted for month’s as the club’s saviour, though it was unclear how much money she – and her backers – had.

In the absence of any other serious bidders, the club will stay in Ashley’s hands – for now.

If the club is able to stay in the Premier League, the situation could quickly change.

To do that, manager Rafa Benitez needs money.

The club has already banked some of the Premier League’s TV rights money, but how much of it is Ashley prepared commit to squad strengthening in this month’s transfer window?

A best guess would be £10-20million.

That won’t go very far, though it could cover a couple of loans and maybe a permanent signing.

But can Ashley afford another relegation?

No.

Investment is best for him, Benitez and the club.

Benitez wants a striker, a goalkeeper, a winger, a No 10 and a left-back.

The 57-year-old, one of European football’s most respected coaches, knows better than Ashley and his advisers what the team needs right now.

Ashley should listen to Benitez, who has become increasingly frustrated at the club’s transfer inaction.

Buy! Buy! Buy!