Footy Accumulators speaks to @IfRafaGoesWeGo as Newcastle takeover reports continue to gather momentum

Newcastle United

Could this finally be the news that ALL Newcastle fans have been waiting for..

Some major news broke over the weekend of interest to all Newcastle United supporters. Reports are suggesting that Mike Ashley's controversial reign at the club could be set to end very soon, with the 54 year-old in talks to sell the club for around £350m to Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The UAE billionaires investment group have confirmed that they're interested in buying the club and it'll be music to the ears of Magpies supporters everywhere, who've grown increasing disillusioned under Ashley. His reluctance to spend big in the transfer market has left them incredibly frustrated, along with manager Rafa Benitez who's been reluctant to commit his future to the club.

His contract is set to expire on 30th June and there will be a long list of clubs interesting in recruiting him, so it's imperative that Newcastle retain him at all costs. He wants his vision for the club to be backed and this new potential owner certainly has the funds to do so, so it's going to be interesting to see how this one plays out.

We've had no official word from Ashley himself over the last few days, but back in December he did admit that he was "hopeful" that the club would be sold to "an owner that will please everybody" - so Newcastle fans stay on alert.

But despite the lack of an official comment from the current owner, the potential new one has had his input and these words will please NUFC fans.

"We can confirm the representatives of his Highness Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in discussions with Mike Ashley and his team about the proposed acquisition of Newcastle United Football Club, we view it as an honour to have the opportunity to build on the strong support, history and tradition of the club," the statement read.

This story is developing quickly and with Rafa's contract set to end in just over a months time, it needs to completed soon if they're to retain his services. Newcastle United are one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and if this goes through they should have the financial clout to climb up the table. But will it be enough to tempt Rafa to stay and lead this revolution?

We've spoken to @IfRafaGoesWeGo, a fan movement with almost 20k Twitter followers to get the supporters perspective on this breaking news. The Ashley era of ownership has been one of the most controversial and toxic in Premier League history, so the prospect of it ending is certainly exciting for the Magpies.

@FootyAccums speaks to @IfRafaGoesWeGo

Q: Well then, this could finally be the news that all Newcastle fans have been waiting for. What would it mean to you to finally see the back of Mike Ashley?

A: Our movement has been all about supporting Rafa Benitez and putting as much pressure as possible on Mike Ashley. Ashley has systematically abused his position as owner of Newcastle United FC. He has stripped assets, exploited the club for commercial benefit and, worst of all, taken away hope and ambition. Him finally leaving would mean everything to the thousands and thousands of fans around the world who love our club.

Q: We all know how passionate Newcastle fans are, they’re amongst the best in the world without a doubt. There must be a real buzz around the city at the moment in anticipation of this deal getting over the line?

A: We’ve been here before. Probably the fifth time we’ve had our hopes raised but this does feel a bit different. There is a buzz but it’s tempered by a lack of trust that means we won’t truly believe it until a new owner is on the pitch at SJP with a black and white scarf on!

Q: Rafa has worked wonders since he arrived in Newcastle and he's clearly loved by each and every supporter. How important is it that the potential new owners make securing his future their first order of business?

A: Loved by most of the fans certainly. For us it’s essential. He understands the fans, the club and the city. He is a proven, world-class manager. We’re lucky to have him and would hope that any potential new owner would sign him up to a long term contract immediately.

Q: If you can retain Rafa and bring in the possible new owners, just how big do you think the potential of the club is?

A: It’s all about progression for us. With both those things in place we’d like to get established in the top half of the Premier League and maybe be looking at 6-8 in the next 2/3 seasons. Obviously we’d like to compete and challenge for a cup as well

All NUFC fans who love Rafa (which has to be everyone) give @IfRafaGoesWeGo a follow and support the campaign.

Enough to tempt Rafa to stay?

Newcastle United fans have been dreaming about news like this for sometime and it finally looks like it could possibly become reality. Mike Ashley's controversial reign at the club could end very soon and it has the potential to provide the foundations for an exciting new future for the club.

They have everything in place to really push on and climb up that Premier League table. A superb stadium, terrific fan base and one of the best managers in the country in Rafa Benitez, a man who's in demand.

Rafa's contract expires in just over a month and there's already clubs interested in securing his signature, with the Sunday People reporting yesterday that he turned down an approach made by La Liga outfit Real Betis.

Benitez has become something of a cult hero since making the move to the North East three years ago. He took over the club in a shocking state with relegation looking a certainty but he stuck around, guiding them to the Championship title and then two seasons of consolidation in the top flight in extremely testing conditions.

He's made the Newcastle fans proud once again, he's brought them back together and they're working towards a common goal. They want to put the Magpies back on the map again. Get back in Europe, get in cup finals. But if he's to do this he needs to be supported by the clubs hierarchy. He needs his vision to be backed.

And when you look at his credentials there aren't many better around. His CV speaks for itself, he's won 13 major honours in his managerial career which includes the Champions League, UEFA Cup and La Liga, managed the likes of Liverpool, Real Madrid & Inter Milan - so he has all the experience to lead this new potential era.

But just like the fans, he's had several differences with Ashley but all he wants is the best for the club. He wants to have funds made available to compete in the Premier League and it really makes you think what they could achieve if he was given what he needs.

The Magpies have been amongst the lowest spenders in the top flight over the last couple of seasons but despite this they've managed to record solid finishes of 10th and 13th, so why can't they push for a European spot just like newly promoted Wolves if Rafa is backed?

Massive potential

It's a testament to how big Newcastle United are as a football club that Rafa has stuck around as long as he has. He's labelled their two seasons back in the Premier League as a "great achievement" and when you look at what he's spent and the personnel at his disposal, it's hard not to agree with him.

Should Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan manage to seal the purchase of the club then tying down the Spaniard to a new deal has to be his first order of business. They'll be able to attract a completely different calibre of player, having the financial clout available to really push on.

The Sheikh made headlines last year after launching an ambitious £2bn takeover bid to buy Premier League runners-up Liverpool and it's believed that the total net worth of the Abu Dhabi royals is estimated to be around the £118bn mark - jaw dropping numbers.

Should this go through no longer will Rafa be forced to dip in the bargain bin, Newcastle can finally be ambitious with their signings. Something which started to happen on deadline day when they broke their long standing transfer record to sign Miguel Almiron for around £20m.

But for all the riches on offer from this potential deal, the implications could go far beyond money. The Ashley era at Newcastle has been toxic, hostile one and for the sake of everyone at the club, it needs to end soon.

He's had a non-existent relationship with the clubs supporters since day one. His reluctance to spend, extremely questionable decisions and relegations have led to various protests against his ownership along movements such as @IfRafaGoesWeGo and a petition launched to keep Rafa at the club & much more. Rafa has always had the clubs best interests at heart and he symbolises what the fans stand for.

His future is the priority and needs to be secured ASAP as it makes the club a much more attractive proposition. Add the takeover to the equation and Newcastle fans will be in dreamland. VERY exciting times ahead...

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