Newcastle would have to pay Jonjo Shelvey £80,000 a week in the Championship
Newcastle United are facing the nightmare prospect of paying Jonjo Shelvey £80,000 a week in the Championship after failing to negotiate a wage cut in the event of relegation.
With Rafa Benitez urging owner Mike Ashley to launch a root and branch review of the way the club is run, Newcastle will have major financial problems if they fail to win an increasingly hopeless relegation battle.
Shelvey signed a five-and-a-half year contract in January, but does not have a clause that automatically reduces his salary if the club drop out of the Premier League.
The England midfielder is determined to stay on Tyneside, whatever the outcome of Newcastle’s relegation battle after securing regular first-team football since his £12million move from Swansea.
Shelvey is not the only high profile player on Tyneside who does not have a relegation clause inserted into their contract and it is understood none of the players signed in January will take an automatic wage cut in the Championship.
France international Moussa Sissoko is another who does not have a cause that will force him to reduce his £55,000-a-week wage packet, although Newcastle will be keen to find a buyer for the former Toulouse player, even if they stay up, as his poor form has become a major concern.
Shelvey will be one of the highest paid players to ever feature in the Championship after the club neglected to include a salary reduction.
Scott Parker, the Fulham midfielder, is alleged to have earned £75,000 a week last season, but Shelvey is on course to beat that.
It is understood there is also no release clause in Shelvey’s contract which allows him to leave for a set price though Andros Townsend, another January signing, can leave for £8million.
Shelvey is settled at Newcastle, however, and a club source insisted the 24-year-old is “in it for the long haul” after becoming a high-profile capture in January. He was given the captaincy by McClaren during the absence of Fabricio Coloccini and has made 11 starts.
Newcastle remain in the bottom three under McClaren’s successor, Benitez, and are six points adrift of Norwich with an inferior goal difference.
Benitez was furious, both at half-time and after Saturday's 3-1 loss at Southampton, and has been shocked by the mental fragility of the players he inherited from McClaren.
He has questioned the attitude of certain individuals and asked why so many of them they cannot perform as well in matches as they do in training.
The Spaniard was also happy to let Newcastle’s players hold their own heated inquest following the defeat at St Mary’s, in which full-back Daryl Janmaat damaged two fingers after punching a wall in the dressing room.
Janmaat left St. Mary’s Stadium with his arm in a sling after taking out his anger on a wall, following his early exit from the game with a groin injury.
There were also furious exchanges between players at half-time after conceding two goals in a shambolic display.
However, Benitez has put an arm around his shell-shocked players since those rows in the hope of extracting a far better performance from them in the home game against Swansea City on Saturday. The Magpies need to win that match to cling on to any realistic hope of avoiding relegation.
Benitez, though, knows huge changes are needed behind the scenes if Newcastle are going to return to their former glory and hopes there will be a review of the club’s transfer policy, scouting network and the Academy set up.
The problem is, although Benitez believes he can dramatically improve the way the club is run, he is almost certain to quit if Newcastle are relegated, which means the summer upheaval will include the search for a third new manager in the space of a year.
Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles has admitted Newcastle have to start showing some “fight” as they bid to mount a late revival.
“On paper our team is ridiculous but we need to show more heart. We need players who care and will look after each other, we've lacked it,” he said.
“We've got flair players, tricky players, players with loads of talent but we need more heart, desire and bigger characters on the pitch. No matter how good you are, if you don't have that fight and hunger it doesn't matter."