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Rafa leave Toon? It'll cost PS5m; FOOTBALL SPY; THE ORIGINAL GOSSIP COLUMN LATEST NEWS THE BIGGEST MOVES EVERY SUNDAY.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY JOHN RICHARDSON

RAFA BENITEZ would have to cough up PS5million if he walks out on Newcastle United.

Toon owner Mike Ashley has written into the Spaniard's contract a severance clause which means that a year's salary - around PS5m - would be due either way if there is a change of manager.

If Benitez was sacked the former Real Madrid and Liverpool boss would be due the payment, but if he leaves under his own volition then the club would collect.

It's why Ashley (right) has stayed relaxed through the past weeks as tensions between Benitez and managing director Lee Charnley have grown over what Benitez sees as a botched-up transfer policy.

Rafa, 57, has even launched an email tirade at Charnley in an effort to trigger a St James' Park transfer assault.

The Spaniard - due back for pre-season training tomorrow at the newly-promoted club - is frustrated at seeing the collapse of a number of planned deals.

Charnley, mandated by owner Ashley to mastermind the transfer business, has been the focal point for Benitez's anger.

The frustrated coach has written a series of emails questioning the managing director's work.

It has led to a number of heated verbal discussions between the pair.

But Charnley has Ashley's backing on the business front.

And if it came to the crunch, Ashley would almost certainly back the managing director over the manager.

Ashley believes Benitez should also have lat look around at other Premier League clubs who haven't been able to land their transfer targets, while adding that the window only officially opened yesterday. Benitez has also been handed more power over which players come in, after long-serving chief scout Graham Carr departed a fortnight ago.

Former under-21s scout at St James' Park, Steve Nickson, has now taken over the role as Newcastle's head of recruitment.

Benitez said: "I would like to congratulate Steve and welcome him to his new role. Steve has done an excellent job in the scouting department at Under-21s level.

"I'm very confident he will bring his many strengths to this new role, improving and building on our first-team recruitment strategy, as well as that at all levels throughout the club.''

CAPTION(S):

TENSION: He won promotion, but Benitez is still battling with Toon

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jul 2, 2017
Words:376
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