Sunday 21 July 2019

Mike Ashley can attend training any time he wants says Rafael Benitez

Ashley and Benitez have an arm’s length relationship.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been told he is welcome at the training ground any time (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has been told he is welcome at the training ground any time (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Damian Spellman, Press Association Sport

Rafael Benitez has told Newcastle owner Mike Ashley he needs no invitation to the club’s training ground.

Magpies boss Benitez and the sportswear magnate generally communicate via managing director Lee Charnley and have rarely spoken face-to-face during the Spaniard’s time at the helm.

A report on Friday suggested Ashley had been irked by the fact that he had not been invited to the training ground by the manager, but the manager insists he is welcome any time.

Benitez, who takes his side to Manchester City on Saturday, said: “It is not an issue [for me]. Mike Ashley is the owner and he is welcome here when he wants to come, that’s it.”

Pressed on whether he would issue an invitation to the Sports Direct supremo, Benitez added: “Are you married? Yes. You have a house? Yes. So do you have to be invited into your own house?

“You are the owner, so you can do what you want. You are the owner, you are welcome.”

Two famously strong-minded men currently find themselves at something of an impasse with Ashley unwilling to sanction significant summer spending without Benitez agreeing a contract extension and the Spaniard not prepared to do so without being given evidence of the club’s ambition.

The owner is understood to have grown weary of the manager’s barely-disguised dissatisfaction with the club’s latest recruitment mission, and that has not helped their arm’s length relationship.

However asked if a rapprochement was a possibility before, as the club’s fans fear, a parting of the ways when his contract expires at the end of June next year, Benitez said: “It is too early. We have plenty of time to discuss things, don’t worry.”

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