Newcastle Managing Director Lee Charnley has today given a rare interview in the Mail.
And he talks about what a colossal risk Newcastle took to keep Rafa down below after we were relegated and retain as many of our top players as possible.
That was even though the club knew they would be losing money starting in August 2016 because of reduced revenues.
Mike Ashley was keen to keep Rafa Benitez on board after we had hammered Tottenham 5-1 in that final game of the season.
And rather than it being misery that we had been relegated it was potential ecstasy as Newcastle fans implored the club to keep Rafa Benitez at Newcastle.
Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley was keen to talk to Rafa after that game and had even tried to get to him earlier once we knew we were relegated after Sunderland had beaten Everton earlier that week.
And as has been revealed by Rafa in talkSPORT recently he actually has good working relations with the owner Mike Ashley.
This is what Lee Charley has said in the Mail about what would have happened if we hadn’t been promoted back in May of last year:
‘It would have been a catastrophe, a bloodbath.”
“The manager would likely have gone. This was a one-season gamble from his view as well.”
“Some of the players would have wanted to go. Matt Ritchie, for example, bought into this on the basis of, “One year in the Championship then I am going to the Premier League”.”
“And then we would have had Financial Fair Play. You cannot operate a business continually that has a wage bill higher than its turnover, it’s not sustainable.”
“We’d have had no choice but to recruit Championship players.”
“Three teams then come down with more money than you and you end up on this cycle of trying to catch them.”
“You have to reset financially. It would have taken years to get out of the Championship.”
‘There should have been a negativity around the club given what had gone before.”
“It was surreal watching us beat a team who were going for second place and beat them like we did.”
‘We had planned a conversation with the manager after the game. The thinking could have been,”
“We have to scale back because the revenues have gone down”, whereas Mike was, “We are going for it”.”
“We talked through the game, “If we could get the manager to stay, get off to a decent start, fans behind you, you build momentum and it can develop a life of its own”.”
“So Mike’s priority was to keep Rafa.”
“I am going to leave you two to get on with it, I’m going to support you and, come next year, I do not want to be in this league”.”
That was indeed a huge risk and reflects well on both Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley and Rafa Benitez.
Losing the first two games at Fulham and home to Huddersfield probably caused a few worries in the Newcastle hierarchy.
But in the end, Rafa and the players came through, and it was a massive achievement for Newcastle to get promoted straight back to the Premier League as Champions.
It not only showed that Rafa is one of the best managers in world football but that he is committed to the club.
Surely he will now sign on to a new long-term contract after two challenging seasons when he has resurrected the club and got us up to 10th place in the Premier League.
A fabulous accomplishment by Mr. Rafa Benitez.
Jack Farish is currently studying for a Master’s degree in sport and exercise psychology at Northumbria University.
His thesis project looks at Premier League fans’ team identification – how well they support and identify with their team.
Jack has put together a relatively short questionnaire of team identification and satisfaction with life; it should take no longer than 10 minutes.
You can help Jack by filling out the survey here.