After a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Preston on Monday evening, Newcastle secured automatic promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking. As the players and fans celebrated together at St James Park, rife with jubilation, for a moment everyone forgot about the turbulent rollercoaster that had led to this point: numerous incompetent managers, countless protests over ownership, and the bleak numbness of last season’s terrible campaign. Finally, with Rafa at the helm we had something to celebrate.
As a Newcastle fan I speak from experience when applying Newton’s third law of motion to the club; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Never has this rung more true than the events that have unfolded over the past few days.
Yes, on Monday evening none of us had a care in the world as Mr Benitez delivered on his plan to secure top-flight status once more. However after the match when speaking at the conference he was asked whether he would still be on Tyneside next season, to which he responded: “You never know, that is football.” This lack of certainty has thrown Geordies into a quandary over the future Premier League challenge and put an ever so slight damper on the celebrations.
On Wednesday morning the dust had barely settled from Monday’s elation when the news broke that Newcastle and West Ham’s stadiums and training grounds were being raided by HMRC in regards to tax and national insurance fraud. Shortly after the initial shock had subsided, news broadcasters and Twitter pages were announcing that Newcastle’s managing director Lee Charnley had been arrested, triggering more cause for concern.
From the information released at the time, it appeared as though the problems may have been linked to Marseille- French law enforcement was involved and executed raids across the channel at the same time, both Newcastle and West Ham have signed players (Thauvin and Payet respectively) and sold them back in recent years. However today it has been revealed that ex-NUFC midfielder Sylvain Marveaux has been arrested in France, despite having no link to OM, so it is feared the problem is more widespread than first thought.
In light of these events it could lessen the likelihood of Rafa Benitez staying with the Toon, as it’s reported he wants a summer budget of around £100m to boost the squad for a more elite league- something he would want without having to involve himself in shady dealings. Hopefully the investigation won’t result in a loss of manager, transfer targets over the summer, or docking of points next season.