What happens now at St James’ Park?
BIG SUMMER AHEAD AFTER RELEGATION FEARS VANISH
NEWCASTLE United are virtually safe in the Premier League for another season and have secured another massive injection of TV money after surpassing the 40-point mark. But what happens now, and after talk of both the owner and the first-team manager’s future have been continually parked during United’s bid for topflight survival, surely the time has come to get talks under way? Here are the questions that Newcastle fans are asking after their side ensured that talk of relegation can be banished for another year. Does Mike Ashley still want to sell the club and is Amanda Staveley set to return with a new offer?
Ashley’s legal team have not been told to remove the club off the market and therefore the Sports Direct magnate is still open to incoming bids.
Despite interest form Staveley before Christmas there have been no fresh offers from the PCP Capital Partners.
Ashley was open to staggered payments when he initially put the club up for sale but the deal between the owner and PCP Capital Partners fell through because the two parties could not agree a potential relegation clause on the price.
With that no longer a factor a new bid must be structured by PCP Capital Partners, but whether Ashley has raised the asking price remains to be seen.
Ashley was said to be open to bids around £300m last year but with more TV money guaranteed this could be a factor to the club’s value.
The 53-year-old knows he is sitting on a profit-making machine at Newcastle if he continues to operate the club in a similar manner, but with prices in the transfer market set to soar again this summer it would be a huge gamble to try to scrimp and save on the recruitment front and expect similar results. Are Newcastle likely to address the situation publicly?
As we know Ashley rarely speaks in public and his last official interview as with Sky Sports back in August when he told fans he could not compete with the top clubs.
Managing director Lee Charnley has also not spoken to the media for some time and usually sends out any messages via press releases.
The club will hold a fan forum later this month and must release the information from that meeting to their fanbase.
Unless there is a change of heart in the communication department, that
is potentially the next time fans will get an inkling of Ashley’s intentions at St James’ Park.
Will Ashley offer Rafa Benitez a new deal?
Rafa Benitez’s current deal runs out at the end of next season and clubs in the Premier League and abroad have him on their radar.
The fact he has guided Newcastle to the top 10 with a shoestring budget has merely enhanced his reputation on the managerial circuit.
But now it really is crunch time for Benitez and Ashley.
After enduring three disappointing transfer windows, the Toon boss is determined to get some assurances on a transfer kitty.
With the TV money guaranteed for next season he should be due around £80m to £120m in profits to spend on new players – or at least that should be the case if Ashley’s stance is the same as last May.
Back then he said: “I’ve confirmed to Rafa and Lee that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means in order to build for next season.”
Benitez won’t sign a new contract unless he is guaranteed a decent amount to spend but the vibes seem as positive as they can be from the Ashley side in that he is prepared to talk.
Ashley has not attended St James’ Park this season but sent close aides Charnley and PR man Keith Bishop to the dressing room area to congratulate Benitez in the last two home matches.
Benitez is open to a 10-year stay but only if the conditions are right.
What does Rafa Benitez want to do in the transfer market in the summer?
The Toon boss is keen to add more quality to his squad and while competition is currently thriving at United’s training centre, he wants to beef up his strike force, find another winger, add more cover in the full-back departments, and potentially bring in another centreback and goalkeeper, if Matz Sels is sold this summer.
Benitez has been keeping a close eye on all of the European leagues this season and extended his scouting networks.
However, he knows that Newcastle need to start getting transfers set up if they are to ensure they are ready to go when the next window opens.
Benitez was left annoyed last summer after having deals ready for Willy Caballero and Tammy Abraham on loan, only for them to fall through after slow reactions from his board resulted in Chelsea and Swansea City pipping United for the duo’s signatures.
If a contract is agreed Benitez will want a swift action plan in the summer window.
Rafa Benitez celebrates the win, and hitting the vital 40-point mark, with Kenedy
United players celebrate Matt Ritchie’s goal against Arsenal, which secured the win and effective Premier League safety