A must-read as Rafa Benitez reveals the ‘real story’ behind his NUFC exit

In a debut piece for The Athletic, Rafa Benitez has revealed the ‘real story’ behind his Newcastle United exit earlier this summer.

This comes after Lee Charnley stated the following in the club’s programme notes on Sunday: “We strongly believed we went beyond what we could reasonably be asked in order to keep him. But let’s be clear, he moved to China for money.”

The main message from Charnley was that the club couldn’t have done any more to keep him, claiming Rafa left for money and, as a result, Rafa Benitez has told his side of the story during his first piece as a columnist for The Athletic.

Here’s what he’s had to say:

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

“I would like to start my first column for The Athletic with this quote from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and politician.

“People in Newcastle have been talking about my decision to move to China without knowing what happened behind the scenes during my three years at St James’ Park,”

“I haven’t wanted to say too much about that — I’ve encouraged supporters to get behind Steve Bruce and his new team — but I’ve been made aware of what Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director, claimed in the club’s match programme last weekend and I think it’s important I address that.

“When I joined Newcastle in 2016, I did it with all my heart. I could feel the history and see the potential of the club and I wanted to be part of a project and to stay close to my family on Merseyside.

“I tried to do my best every day, even staying when we went down to the Championship and saying no to other offers — bigger offers than the one I recently accepted with Dalian Yifang, by the way. If I was only interested in moving ‘for money’, as Charnley stated, I could have done it much earlier.”

“Over my long career, and especially in my time at Newcastle, I’ve always shown commitment to my club, its city and its community and I’ve done it with professionalism and honesty.

“I want to remember the good moments I spent in the north-east — and there were many of them — and not have to keep denying things about my time there or about my departure.

“Newcastle’s board had a year to sort out my contract but, when we met after the end of last season, they didn’t make me an offer I could accept. They told me they didn’t want to invest in the academy or the training ground — if they like, I can explain the reason why Mike Ashley refused to do that.

“Their idea of a project was a policy of signing players under 24 and, in my opinion, the budget available was not enough to compete for the top 10.

“After that meeting, I knew they would not come back with a serious offer and, when it arrived, 19 days later, it was for the same salary as three years earlier and with less control over signings. Charnley’s comments in the programme about having a deal agreed for Joelinton in February explains a lot that I couldn’t understand at that time.

“After three years of unfulfilled promises, I didn’t trust them.”

“When we finished 10th in the Premier League in our first season back, all players and staff were paid a bonus — aside from my coaching team.

“That felt like a punishment for me not signing an extension.

“So, by the end, I knew there would not be a proper offer and they knew I was not signing.

“I couldn’t explain that in public because I was not allowed to talk to the press without their permission, so I was waiting until late June, like every fan, hoping there would be good news about Newcastle’s prospective takeover.

“The time was passing and we were losing job opportunities in Europe. I couldn’t wait forever. I’m a family man and I have a responsibility to them, my staff, Paco, Antonio and Mikel, and their families, too. I don’t like to gamble with the future of my people.

“In front of us we had three options: nothing serious from Newcastle, the hope of a possible takeover or a different project. Yes, it was a big offer in China — I have never denied that — but it was also another continent and another league, from a club giving us a lot of recognition and respect. That decision wasn’t easy, but it was clear.”


Little more needs to be said, but if you are still unsure of who to believe in all of this – Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley or Rafa Benitez – I’ll leave you with this:

“The Club admitted to the Tribunal that it repeatedly and intentionally misled the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United”

I know who I believe.

(Fancy writing for us? Get in touch at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

5 thoughts on “A must-read as Rafa Benitez reveals the ‘real story’ behind his NUFC exit

  1. “They told me they didn’t want to invest in the training ground or academy. If they like I can explain the reason why Ashley refused to do that.” Well my guess is they want to sell the land to developers. Is there any other plausible reason?

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  2. Mike Ashley’s a proven lier,charnley just Ashley’s puppet and yes man,wouldn’t trust these 2 with a potato gun,never mind telling the truth or running club, at least benetez has put his side of the story over,I know who to believe,and it’s not Ashley or charnley,must think us Geordies are all thick and have short term memories.

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  3. Rafa has done himself a disservice with this imho he should have been the better man and walked away. He says it was not for money yet everything he wanted apart from power was money.
    No bonus for his staff for 10th = money, a pay raise ,transfer kitty not enough , improvement to training ground and academy = money
    No trust between him and the club suggests he had his mind made up long ago and refused to sign off on players incoming is downright wrong. Any professional who is leaving will want to leave things as best as possible for the next person to take the job this refusal destroyed our pre season.

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  4. Peter you need to keep your mouth shut too much garbage coming out, only two people to blame for the state of our club, one is sir John Hall, the other is ashley, steve Bruce will do nothing for our club what self respecting geordie would take a job at Sunderland, the club will go nowhere under these muppets period you must be thick to think otherwise, 50 yrs a supporter and this is the biggest parasite I’ve seen in football, ashley will ruin our club

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  5. It’s TRUE though Rob read up it’s there in black nd white ( pun intended)

    I am not blaming Rafa for the state of the club its issues run much deeper than that and nowhere in my post do I suggest that.

    Did he post this story on his website free of charge no he didn’t it’s on a website that pays him per article. 🙄

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