Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has said that it is the fault of potential new owners the Bin Zayed Group that manager Rafael Benitez is leaving the club, according to the Daily Mirror.
The newspaper claims that Ashley believes Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan, who is in talks to purchase the Magpies, does not want the Spaniard as his manager.
Ashley decided to end discussions over a new contract with Benitez on Monday having had the Sheikh’s choice confirmed, not wanting to upset the BZG by effectively forcing them to pay Benitez’s £6million compensation fee to fire him if he signed a new deal under Ashley.
The Sports Direct tycoon held talks with the BZG about the Spaniard, with it becoming clear that the potential new owners have their own list of targets for the manager’s position at St James’ Park.
You could look at this a number of ways. The first, and probably the most popular among the Newcastle supporters, is to dismiss everything Ashley says out of hand because he has proved himself to be an unreliable source over the years. The second is to actually look at what the Mirror’s report says, even though it doesn’t actually contain any direct quotes from Ashley. You could say that if Ashley felt that he had to get rid of Benitez in order to keep the BZG happy then he must believe that a successful takeover from them is close. That’s obviously good news for the Magpies fans, who want Ashley out. However, any who held out hope that Benitez would be brought back under new ownership have been dealt a harsh blow here. The BZG obviously have their own list of candidates they want to place in charge of the club, and the former Liverpool boss isn’t one of them.