Rafael Benitez agrees to remain at Newcastle after Mike Ashley discussions
SSN HQ understands Benitez has been promised a transfer budget in excess of £70m
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 10/05/17 11:44pm
Rafael Benitez has agreed to stay at Newcastle United after holding positive talks with owner Mike Ashley regarding his plans for next season.
The Magpies clinched the Sky Bet Championship title on Sunday with a 3-0 victory over Barnsley as Benitez successfully led the club back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The former Real Madrid boss signed a three-year contract with Newcastle last May but had hinted he could leave if he and Ashley were not on the same page in terms of the development of the club.
The Spaniard was flown by helicopter to the Midlands' HQ of Sports Direct, where he met Ashley face to face and the club have now confirmed Benitez is staying.
A statement from Newcastle said: "Newcastle United can confirm that a meeting has taken place between the club's owner, Mike Ashley, managing director Lee Charnley, and manager Rafa Benitez.
"It was agreed by all parties that the meeting was very positive and constructive. Mike again congratulated Rafa and his team on gaining promotion to the Premier League as champions.
"Plans for next season were discussed, including the purchase and loan of players to add to the squad in readiness for the Premier League season."
Sky Sports News HQ understands Benitez has been promised in excess of £70m to spend on new players with Ashley happy for him to have access to all funds generated from promotion, once the cost of running the club is deducted.
Speaking after the meeting, Mike Ashley said: "I've confirmed to Rafa and Lee that they can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means in order to build for next season."
Benitez was given full control of player recruitment last summer after agreeing to stay on following Newcastle's relegation.
The 57-year-old oversaw the departures of Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum, Andros Townsend and Darryl Janmaat among others while adding the likes of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Mohamed Diame to strengthen Newcastle's push for immediate promotion.
But Benitez knows Newcastle's squad will need to be significantly strengthened if the club is to retain its top-flight status next season.
"I'm pleased with how the meeting went and the positive approach we are all taking together to build on what we have started this season," Benitez confirmed.
"There will be challenges ahead of course, the summer will not be easy, but the hard work has been going on for some time and we can now continue positively with the development of the squad ahead of the start of the new season. I wish fans an enjoyable summer!"