The Northern Echo are reporting today that there will be further talks between Rafa Benitez and Mike Ashley after yesterday’s round of negotiations failed to bridge the gap between the two men on Rafa’s new contract.
Time is of the essence because Rafa’s contract runs out the end of June and there are stories today that behind the scenes last season Rafa was constantly frustrated by the Newcastle hierarchy and the way the club was being managed from the top.
There were meetings yesterday in a secret location in London but they did not reach any firm conclusions – we assume that’s one-way or the other – Rafa to stay or go – but it looks like Mike Ashley is not going to make this easy.
Rafa can still walk away from Newcastle and that would be a disaster for this club.
The report says the key points of contention are with the finances and Rafa wants some real guarantees on how much money he will be given in the upcoming transfer windows.
Mike Ashley – holding to his positions – too stubborn?
He was promised money over the last two years in the summer of 2016 by the owner and didn’t get it – once bitten twice shy.
Rafa also wants more freedom as to how he spends the transfer money and is willing to be judged on how he uses the money – but he wants Ashley’s age limits on players to be relaxed significantly.
Rafa and Ashley agree it is important to bring young emerging players to Newcastle continuously in the hope that Rafa and his team can develop them into first-team players.
It’s also looking like Wolves will beat us to Salomon Rondon – especially if these contract talks drag on, which now seem possible.
Rondon is one of the older players Rafa wants to sign and that could become the litmus test on whether Benitez agrees to stay onboard with Ashley still the owner.
Rafa is reported to have accepted that radical improvement to the training ground and the Youth Academy that he wants will have to wait.
The two men agree they are secondary in the short-term to building a top team and using the money available to improve the quality of players at Newcastle.
The results of the first meeting are not what we had hoped for because Ashley is still being stubborn on those things he has been unwilling to give Rafa over the previous two years.
And Rafa is not a man to sign a deal he doesn’t like.
And if these talks drag on and it’s like pulling teeth to get commitments from the owner then Rafa may think it’s just too difficult and too much effort wasted – and walk away and look for another more ambitious club.
While there are some reports out that seem positive about yesterday’s meeting the report in the Northern Echo, from an experienced correspond (Scott Wilson) – is worrying.
As we had thought (and dreaded) Ashley positions don’t seem to have changed much at all.
And that’s not good news today.