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We speak to @IfRafaGoesWeGo on all things Benitez & Ashley

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Unforgivable mistake made by Ashley

Monday was a huge day in the modern history of Newcastle United, with the club confirming that the hugely popular and successful Rafa Benitez would be departing St. James' Park upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June.

To say that times have been hard for Magpies supporters since Mike Ashley bought the club 12 years ago is something of an understatement. They've seen their side relegated twice, lose top players whilst watching their rivals spend big money, endure ridiculous managerial appointments, see players get treated disgracefully and much, much more.

Once a part of furniture in the Premier League, they now find themselves battling to stay in it each season. A club as big as Newcastle United should be no way near this situation. So convincing Rafa to move to St. James' Park in the first place was something of a coup.

The Spaniard arrived in the north east from Real Madrid which shows the calibre of the man and he showed tremendous loyalty to the club. He inherited a terrible situation with the Magpies facing an inevitable relegation and despite dropping down to the Championship, he stuck around and guided them to the title the following year.

10th & 13th placed finishes in each of their seasons since returning to the top flight represent excellent progress when you consider the conditions that he was working in. But since day one he's always made it clear that he needs to be backed if the club are to go to the next level.

Newcastle had pretty much everything in place to do so too, the stadium, the fan base, the history and in Rafa they had a truly world class manager. And Rafa knew all this. Never once did he say he wanted to leave, he wanted to be the man to take this great football club back to where it belongs, but unfortunately despite all of the positive things they have in place, they're missing something absolutely crucial. An owner who cares.

Mike Ashley's era of ownership has been an absolute farce since day one and allowing a world class manager like Rafa to run his contract down and not back him when he's asking for it is simply unforgivable - as many Newcastle United fans will be sure to let him know. With this decision confirming that he definitely doesn't have the clubs best interests or ambition at heart.

The supporters and owner have never had a positive relationship but it is now without a doubt beyond repair. Ashley needs to go.

There's been rumours of a takeover for weeks now and this needs to get over the line ASAP if they're to compete next season. Relegation could scarily become a real possibility without Rafa at the helm, so there's some incredibly concerning times ahead.

No one really knows what to expect over the coming weeks and months at St. James' Park, especially the fans who are the real victims in all of this.

To get the their perspective on this crushing news we caught up with @IfRafaGoesWeGo, a fan movement set up in support of the Spaniard last summer. They've been vocal in their support of their man throughout the season and were brutally honest when speaking to us. Check out what they had to say below...

All things Rafa & Ashley with @IfRafaGoesWeGo

ALL Newcastle fans, be sure to give @IfRafaGoesWeGo a follow and get involved in the #AshleyOut campaign.

Q: Firstly, we’ve all seen the huge uproar from Newcastle fans following this shocking news. What was your overriding emotion surrounding Rafa’s departure when you heard about it yesterday?

A: When the news broke yesterday it was sadness. We’d become used to the idea of Rafa leaving but there was still just that slight hope he could stay. When that was lost the first thought was “what might have been”.

Q: The statement read that the club “will not be possible to reach an agreement with Rafa” and apparently he wasn’t even aware of the news until it was actually released, which is poor beyond belief. Is Ashley somehow trying to pin him as the bad guy in all of this?

A. The PR machine has been spinning for weeks and the propaganda war has now kicked in. It’s entirely predictable. Appearances on and quotes via particular media channels; Ashley’s trusted friends rolled out. We’ve seen it all too often before to be fooled but yes - that’s what they are seeking to portray.

Q:Ashley’s ownership of Newcastle has been an absolute farce from the beginning, but where does letting Rafa go rank amongst his biggest mistakes?

A. There is very strong competition for that title! How do you compare this situation to the disgraceful treatment of Jonas Gutierrez? The court-proven lying that Kevin Keegan had to deal with? The contempt shown to Alan Shearer? The list goes on so let’s just say it’s down there with the worst.

Q: We’ve seen #AshleyOut trending on Twitter and some cancelling their season tickets to campaign against him. But what is the fans plan of action to fight back against Ashley?

A. The discussions have been going on for some time and now plans will be being developed further. Public meetings are already being arranged. Our position is clear. Rafa has gone and so have we. We will not renew Season Tickets or purchase any club merchandise until Ashley leaves.

Q: Rafa has overachieved in the toughest of conditions at St. James’ Park. He brought the fans back together, got the players fighting for the shirt, he just got the club and city. How difficult is it going to replace him?

A. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to replace him. For every Benitez, Robson or Keegan there’s always a Pardew, Kinnear or McClaren. We don’t expect anyone who can truly connect the fans to the club and the club to the city until Ashley goes.

Q: And lastly, if you’ve even had chance to think about or consider a replacement for him, who would you take as his successor?

A. We haven’t. #AshleyOut