There has been a lot of news given out about what actually happened at the meeting on Wednesday night when Rafa and his players met with Mike Ashley at an Italian restaurant in Ponteland.
Most of it has come from an article by Craig Hope in the Mail, but the Chronicle has also added to that information.
So we thought it would be helpful to list what Ashley has said and how it may change things at Newcastle for this season.
Mike Ashley arriving at the Rialto Ristorante Italian
- The bad news is that Ashley said he didn’t think the club would be sold this season so the players shouldn’t be unsettled by that, because it will not happen,
He didn’t say the club was not up for sale just that he didn’t think it would sell this season.
- He also said nobody, despite news reports, has come anywhere near the price he wants for Newcastle, so a sale has never been close.
- Ashley said he was determined to keep Rafa Benitez as the manager at the club past next summer when his current contract runs out – it looks like this is the start of his attempt to keep the Spaniard on Tyneside.
- Ashley said he would be taking a more hands-on approach at the club, so we don’t know if that will be a good thing for Newcastle – but it’s not the first time he has said that.
- The owner said he would continue to support Rafa in the transfer market, and since Newcastle are in relegation trouble again, Ashley may even give Rafa some money to spend this January.
He’s also likely to do that to keep Rafa at the club.
- Ashley said the planning for the January transfer window was well underway.
- Relegation was definitely on Ashley’s mind because he told the players he would pay for a summer holiday if they ended up avoiding relegation this season (and kept that PL money flowing into the club).
- Ashley did not give a speech but walked around the table introducing himself and talking to the players and staff.
- After the dinner, he huddled with captain Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Ritchie Rafa Benitez and Lee Charnley to (presumably) have a discussion on how to improve things on the playing side of things – both on and off the pitch.
- Matt Ritchie said the talks with the owner were good.
- Ashley admitted to the players that he had made mistakes in his ownership of the club.
- The Mail reported that Benitez had the £8.95 Risotto Marinara, while Ashley went for the £7.95 Spaghetti Bolognese and drank two pints of lager to wash it down.
- 20 of the 43 man group ordered the more expensive fillet steak at £17.95. The bill came to around £2,500 and Charnley settled the tab, with generous tips for the staff (that’s good).
- Lascelles remained with Rafa, Ashley, and Charnley after the other players left and later walked back to his home in Darras Hall.
- Mike Ashley was reported to be in high spirits as he left the restaurant.
- He has been accused of giving the V sign to protesting fans when he left the Rialto – he’s denied that on the Newcastle website today.
- Ashley is expected to keep attending Newcastle games and even go to watch the training at Benton on occasion as he tries to form a working relationship with Rafa and get him to stay on at the club long-term.
So “that’s it” – as Rafa would say.