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Issues mounting at Newcastle United as they sink down the Premier League table

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Future Looking More Black Than White at St James' Park

Relegation to the Championship is often inevitable for some teams but it's been harder to accept it with clubs as historical and usually self-sufficient as Newcastle United. Their issues started with uncertainty surrounding Mike Ashley's ownership, with the situation only worsening based on league results and the increasingly less surprising worry of relegation to the Championship.

While there must always be three weaker sides in the Premier League who end the term in the second tier, there's less of an excuse for The Magpies to fall into this bracket, especially with the admirably determined leadership of Rafa Benitez. As their misfortune continues to grow, we look at how things have gone so badly for Newcastle United:

Mike Ashley running a business and not a beloved football club

The level of frustration between fans of the club and owner Mike Ashley is always at fever-pitch and it seems that his decision-making has only worsened the situation. The Sports Direct owner was set to sell the club at the start of the year, admitting that they were up for sale and that they would be more successful over future years in the hands of a new owner.

Fury between fans and Mike Ashley made this news a relief to a lot of the club's followers, especially as he and Amanda Staveley entered talks over a reported £250 million takeover. This came to a swift end in January, where Mike Ashley ended talks with Staveley due to him feeling that the club was worth more than the quoted £250 million pricetag.

Mike Ashley Sports Direct Newcastle United
Mike Ashley has become a dislikable figure to fans of Newcastle United

There was little to no sign of Mike Ashley after his refusal to sell the club, making it an occasion when he appeared at Selhurst Park for Newcastle's uninteresting goalless draw away to Crystal Palace at the end of September. Ashley made things even more tense between him and The Magpies' fanbase when he saved House of Fraser from administration several months back.

He then fuelled the fire with fans of the club even more with his comments on the high-street shop's previous failures, putting it down to greed, which many criticised him for after not financially backing Rafa Benitez in the transfer market.

Detachment from the fanbase

As if it wasn't bad enough to hold little faith in the owner of the football club you support, Newcastle United have done very little to show unity with their fanbase. British Lightweight Professional boxer Lewis Ritson famously wore black and white shorts in tribute to Newcastle United - who he is a long-term season ticket holder of - but was involved in an even fiercer fight between the club and its many fans when they forced him to stop using the club's crest and colours.

Lewis Ritson Boxing Newcastle United
Lewis Ritson is a proud Newcastle United fan but he's been formally asked to refrain from promoting the club.

Although a lot of the club's downfalls appeared to mount a few years into Mike Ashley's term as club owner, he didn't start in the strongest of ways, forcing out club legend Kevin Keegan as manager in 2008, where the former striker referred to the club's owner and other officials as a 'Cockney Mafia'.

This feeling of detachment between the club and its fans has been presented in an even darker light through Kevin Keegan's autobiography being released, where he revealed how difficult they made his job as manager, how naive they were with transfers, how they patronised and manipulated him, before Keegan referred to the loss of jobs at the club through their relegation to the Championship in 2009 as 'lives [being] irrevocably changed for the sake of some South American backscratching'.

Rafa Benitez standing firm as Newcastle boss despite lack of financial backing

Arguably coming as the most devastating factor in the current issues at Newcastle United, the lack of funds for transfers has left manager Rafa Benitez without the level of quality that he needs to restore The Magpies to their former glory as a Premier League regular.

While Newcastle made an estimated £150 million on player sales since their relegation to the Championship in 2017, they've only spent a fraction of that on incoming players, which has had a detrimental effect as they're arguably still stuck with a lot of Championship-standard players.

The former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Napoli boss turned around a run of nine Premier League games without a single win last season, racking up just one point out of a possible twenty-seven, to end up with a more than respectable tenth place finish. Although it was a spectacular turnaround, the current season has kicked-off in similar style, with worries that history is repeating itself.

Benitez himself has shown his concerns over a lack of money spent in the transfer window but he's remained as manager despite all of the issues he will have in trying to make Newcastle into a stable Premier League side. There was a chance that money would be spent if the takeover from Amanda Staveley ended up happening but without a new owner, it's unlikely that they'll have any incoming players who aren't free transfers, loan deals, or brought in for lowly fees.

Fans of the club are concerned that he will end up having to resign in the same way that Kevin Keegan did and for the exact same reason if the problem persists, so it appears Mike Ashley's ownership affects everything at St James' Park, including the club's future.

Rafa Benitez Newcastle United
Rafa Benitez has reportedly turned down interesting job opportunities across Europe to see out his job with Newcastle.