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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Newcastle United fans fearful over Benitez’s future after Amanda Staveley takeover deal ends

Supporters fear that the club's manager Rafa Benitez will leave over the situation.

Newcastle United fans fear manager Rafa Benitez will walk. Owen Humphreys/PA via AP
Newcastle United fans fear manager Rafa Benitez will walk. Owen Humphreys/PA via AP

Newcastle United fans are fearful their prized asset Rafa Benitez will walk away from St James’ Park after sale negotiations between Dubai financier Amanda Staveley and Magpies owner Mike Ashley fell through.

Sports Direct owner Ashley announced his intention to sell Newcastle back in October last year and later received a bid believed to be around £250 million (Dh1.2 billion) from Ms Staveley’s firm PCP Capital Partners.

Although Ashley had said he hoped to sell the club by the end of the year, negotiations appeared to have stalled until Tuesday evening when sources close to the sportswear magnate said the takeover talks with PCP had ended.

“It is only right to let the fans know that there is no deal on the table – or even under discussion – with Amanda Staveley and PCP. Attempts to reach a deal with Amanda Staveley and PCP have proved exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time,” the sources told Sky Sports News.

The news has been met with disappointment from supporters, with some fearing their manager Benitez, who has been credited with turning Newcastle’s fortunes around since their Premier League relegation in 2016, will leave out of frustration.

The Spaniard, who guided Liverpool to an Uefa Champions League trophy in 2005, has been left in the dark over how much he has to spend in the current transfer window with the deadline just two weeks away.

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Mark Douglas, the Newcastle United Editor of Tyneside paper the Chronicle and author of “Inside the Rafalution”, said that without the funds to bolster his squad, Benitez will ultimately call it a day.

“It’s been an ever-present danger since last January, which was two transfer windows ago now, that Rafa might walk,” he told The National. “That’s caused a lot of worry on Tyneside. And if he doesn’t get the backing then eventually he will walk.”

Benitez was integral to Newcastle’s return to the Premier League last year and is considered to be the club’s biggest asset.

“If he’s not there, the club is still a Premier League club but doesn’t have a lot of Premier League calibre people there,” Douglas said. “The squad is not Premier League ready, the manager is the only thing that is.”

However, fans are hopeful Benitez, who is facing a fight to avoid relegation this season, will stay out of loyalty to the club.

Former chairman of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust Neil Mitchell, who now lives in Dubai, said he believes the manager will stay.

“My personal opinion is that Rafa Benitez will see this through to the end of the season come what may,” Dr Mitchell told The National before the news of the PCP takeover deal broke. “He cares too much about what he’s done so far. I think that he’s engaged with the fans to the point where he’s one of us and we are with him.

“If he decided enough was enough at the end of the season, I wouldn’t blame him. The blame would be lane quite squarely at the owner’s door.”

Newcastle United is still on the market and last week a report in the British tabloid press said a second Dubai-based investor was looking to make an offer.

However, Mr Douglas said there was “a lot of cynicism” about the report in Newcastle, while Dr Mitchell said he had it on “good authority” that the potential offer had been made up.