With Newcastle United earning over £120m in television revenue for their first season back in the Premier League, it would be expected that the majority of such income would be invested into transfer funds for the club.
However this has not been the case in the transfer window so far, with the Magpies spending only £4m on making Martin Dubravka’s loan permanent, as well as the additions of Ki Seung-Yeung (free) and Kenedy (loan).
To deepen the concern, manager Rafa Benitez recently stated that the club would need to sell before they buy, indicating that Newcastle must generate their own funds. This is a familiar scenario for Magpies fans, with Ashley playing a similar figure in the last three transfer windows; all of which Benitez voiced his concerns about the regime.
Benitez somewhat worked a miracle last season in leading his club to a 10th placed finish with a squad that was relatively unchanged from their previous Championship-winning campaign.
It seems that Ashley is content with simply remaining in the Premier League and making up the numbers, which is in complete contrast to Benitez’s vision whereby he stated that he would like to ‘compete’.
With Benitez only having a year left on his current deal, it seems increasingly unlikely that he will depart St James’ Park following its expiration. Talks over a new deal began as early as April however they have now stalled, with complications over his transfer budget.
Some reports have stated that Ashley will not provide investment until Benitez signs a new contract and, with progression hindering, time is running out in the transfer window for Benitez to complete his squad.
Mike Ashley is indeed playing a dangerous game if the reports are true and must back Benitez fully in order to achieve success, with glimpses shown last season of the potential of the club; most notably the final match of the season in which United beat Chelsea 3-0 at a rocking St James’ Park.
United have a manager who matches the fans’ ambitions however the dream of the ‘Rafalution’ is under serious threat should Ashley not break his tight-fisted regime.
Written by Dawud Arshad
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