In a interview from China over the weekend, Rafa Benitez revealed that the club knew in the middle of MAY that he’d be leaving – an admission that exposes Mike Ashley’s unforgivable summer tactics even further.
Rafa stated “after the meeting in London (May 16th), it was a clear decision for me. A few days later, we told the club we would not extend the contract.”.
So, this meant Mike Ashley knew Benitez would not be staying almost SIX weeks before the club announced his departure on June 24th. What makes this even worse is the fact several outlets tell us the club’s search for a new manager has only begun over the past week – as if they had no idea Rafa was leaving! We know they’re unprepared and reactive not proactive, but we’re no that stupid.
Why would the club wait so long to announce Rafa’s departure if they knew he was off you may ask? Why would he leave the fans wondering for 6 weeks? The answer is simple. He (Ashley) clearly prolonged any announcement on Benitez’s future because he knew some fans would be far more reluctant to buy the new 2019/20 home kit or renew their season tickets if they knew the truth about Rafa’s future.
What’s all the more unforgivable is the fact he had the club promote the new kit in Rafa Benitez’s name (see below), asking fans to ‘support Rafa Benitez’s men’ in the 2019/20 home shirt (see below)…despite the fact he had already confirmed he wouldn’t be staying at this point. This is a proven liar we’re dealing with here.
Failing to make an effort to keep a manager of his class at the club was a disgrace in itself, but this takes Mike Ashley’s summer tactics to a hold new level.
As the tweet below highlights, it’s no coincidence that Ashley said nothing until as late as possible.
The same can be said on the takeover front. The club played along with the Bin Zayed Group’s first two statements, refusing to deny any of their claims, yet both Sky and the Chronicle were fed ‘there’s been no official bid’ from ‘club sources’ the day after the season ticket renewal deadline passed. Coincidence? I think not.
Then there’s the BZG’s latest takeover statement. For what it’s worth, I don’t believe they’d be playing along in a Mike Ashley PR stunt as they’d have no reason to and nothing to gain from it (unlike his ‘pal’ Peter Kenyon), but they do suggest that both parties have done what they can, as if Ashley has manufactured a position of ‘we tried’ incase a deal breaks down.
Normally Ashley’s bizarre and self destructive tactics at least have an element of risk-reward to them, but this feels like an absolute comedy of errors, with this summer making others gone by feel like plain sailing in comparison.
We’re well over a month on from the BZG’s initial statements and Benitez’s private exit admission and just weeks away from the transfer window closing / start of the new season, yet we have no clear takeover update, no new manager, no new signings and no replacements for Perez or Rondon.
We can’t sit back and take this any longer. It’s time to make a stand – whether that’s ditching your season ticket, boycotting Arsenal or refusing to support any of his businesses outside of football.
It’s the only way and it’s now or never. This has been our most shambolic summer yet for me, so if he knows he can get away with it this time, he’ll never stop.