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Talking about Toon needs to give supporters better answers; summer of turmoil has left disgruntled fans with many questions.

Byline: LEE RYDER Chief Newcastle United Writer @lee_ryder

NEWCASTLE United is still very much on the market in the eyes of Mike Ashley - but until somebody can find PS350million for him to hand over the keys at St James' Park, he will give Steve Bruce the time and money to rebuild the club.

His appointment was the first real sign Newcastle were unlikely to be sold to the Bin Zayed Group, which released two promising statements before failing to complete the deal.

There was only a "no comment" from the Magpies, and with Ashley understood not to have seen what he considered a concrete or realistic bid, hopes of a fresh start dwindled, Rafa Benitez's future became uncertain.

So why didn't the Magpies or Ashley even comment on the situation? In short, they decided to stick to the non-disclosure agreement they'd signed with BZG, giving the Middle East company the fullest opportunity to show they were for real.

Fast forward to August and Ashley's name is still above the door and not for the first time during his controversial tenure he is picking up the pieces after another high-profile managerial departure, just like the exits of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer in 2008 and 2009.

Ashley doesn't need to be told by Our policy any of his PR staff what the majority of the Tyneside public think after Rafa's farewell.

no comment we will something is definitive Lee For all the talk of what Benitez wanted, for all the talk of BZG taking over and for all the talk of Ashley finally handing the keys over after 12 years, the transfer window is now closed.

The reality is Ashley is still here, Bruce has taken the place of Benitez but around PS65million has been spent on transfer fees alone and more still on agent fees signing on fees and stadium refurbishment.

Even the arrivals of Joelinton, Allan Saint-Maximin, Jetro Willems, Emil Krafth and an emotional return for Andy Carroll have not convinced some fans to return, although Joelinton and Carroll's unveilings did create something of a buzz in the city. Ashley spoke broadly when asked his views about Newcastle in an interview with the Daily Mail last month. But he hasn't responded to further requests to discuss the range of subjects he covered and after 12 years is yet to sit down with the Chronicle.

After travelling to the training ground for the first time in two years, the message to Bruce and managing director Lee Charnley has been to get on with the job.

Charnley has broken his silence after a turbulent summer for the club, speaking about Benitez's exit and "a period of uncertainty for supporters", but he also afforded the Chronicle an interview on the eve of the Premier League's opening weekend.

The main question on the lips of the fans has been talk of BZG's takeover, but Charnley does not care to elaborate too much on the subject.

has been and only say if there something to say Charnley He said: "We carry on business as usual and if there is a development, we will announce it.

"We aren't going to get drawn into a running commentary.

"Our policy has been no comment and we will only say something on it if there is something definitive to say."

It's a frustrating response for fans, but when it came to the crunch, did BZG have the PS350million? That is a question for them to answer - which is also the situation for Peter Kenyon and the US consortium that were linked with a takeover in late 2018.

Ashley's own view on it was: "The day someone buys Newcastle, they'll do their due diligence - and it's finished.

"It will happen like Manchester City.

"By the time the media find out, it's already complete."

Charnley won't answer any more questions on the situation now, but it is understood the deal to buy Newcastle is simple for anybody who's got the money. There is a price, a process and a willingness from Ashley to sell IF he sees the asking price (believed to be around PS350million), providing his family retain the right to hire their executive box in the Milburn Stand.

Speaking to the public regularly is a criticism from which Newcastle United can't escape.

Charnley - who has often opted against on-the-record interviews - said: "We accept we need to communicate more. Will I do it in every programme? No. But as a minimum I will do it at the end of each window and at the end of the season.

"This is just one element of our commitment to communicate more regularly."

When Ashley first took over, he appointed lawyer Chris Mort to do his talking for him and this went down well with fans. Mort was replaced by Derek Llambias in 2008 but the former casino owner's words were not always met with same enthusiasm.

Llambias walked out in 2013 on the same day Ashley's bizarre choice of director of football Joe Kinnear branded his star player "Yohan Kebab".

Charnley has not always stepped up to do interviews, but has taken part in more as the years have gone by. He said: "Improved communication is something we have been discussing with our Fans Forum for some time and something we are committed to.

"That will involve the Fans Forum, me doing some interviews with the local press and other media outlets.

"But it will also involve other members of the team."

There's talk of head of recruitment Steve Nickson taking part in an interview at some stage this season, while other voices will also be heard.

Nickson had a non-speaking public role during the Benitez era but Newcastle chiefs like him a lot, and his role was a condition that had to stay in place this summer regardless of who replaced the ex-Liverpool boss.

Benitez (pictured left), like Steve McClaren, John Carver and Alan Pardew, was often the sole public speaker at St James' Park - a situation that caused a lack of balance in outgoing communication. Ashley said last month he felt "cornered" and "out-manoeuvred" by Benitez's political agenda.

Charnley said: "We will be opening our doors to give people some behind-the-scenes access and a greater understanding of other departments within the club.

"We have done that with Eddie Rutherford at the stadium and Jamie Harley (fitness coach) at the training ground and I thought they were very informative. I accept that only hearing from one voice, from a club point of view, is not the right thing to do."

The 2018/19 season kicks off amid a backdrop of protests and a boycott that resulted in the crowd being 4,000 fans down against Arsenal at the weekend.

When asked his thoughts on the fans who have decided to walk away, either for good or for the time being, Charnley said: "All I would ask is the supporters that are inside the stadium get fully behind Steve and the players on the pitch. I am delighted those who came on Sunday did exactly that. I thank them for that. They do make a difference."

All I would the inside the get fully Steve Lee." Newcastle's turbulent summer, however, has tested the patience of supporters - and pushed some of them to the limit

The Gallowgate Flags group decided to abandon their very successful operation after years of trying to improve the atmosphere at home games.

It is believed measures have been made by the club to keep them onside. Charnley said: "I would like to see them back.

They were a fabulous addition to the match-day experience. They did an incredible job and if they wanted to come back, we would be delighted."

ask is supporters stadium behind and the players Charnley " What happens between now and the next Premier League home game against Watford will be crucial in terms of the atmosphere in the city.

But Charnley is eager to try to turn the page on the summer.

His public stance on Benitez was consistent and he did not want to answer further questions on the record.

Charnley said in his programme notes for the Arsenal match the Spaniard "moved to China for money". Bruce is on a fraction of Benitez's salary but his desire to succeed on Tyneside is as big.

Ashley insists he did not want to lose Benitez but a 50% pay increase and other demands made the deal - in Ashley's own words - "impossible".

Bruce will get the chance to succeed despite being, again in his own words, not "everybody's cup of tea".

For many the words of Ashley, Charnley and Bruce will not be satisfactory and the results on the field will dictate the agenda for the supporters who have decided to stay. There are still big questions, but unless a budding oil-rich tycoon or a tech giant can tick the three boxes Ashley is asking for, the struggle continues to feel real for Newcastle fans.

or for Charnley I Charnley like to They be betwee"All I would ask is the supporters inside the stadium get fully behind Steve and the players Lee Charnleyand 2008 of talk and for eve of League's weekend. The the talk not the He said: business a"Our policy has been no comment and we will only say something if there is something definitive to say Lee Charnley


Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley. Inset right, Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed al-Nehayan and new head coach Steve Bruce
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 14, 2019
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