MP urges Newcastle United owner to back Rafa Benitez
Chi Onwurah MP is presenting a petition in the House of Commons raising questions about how Mike Ashley runs the Premier League club.
An MP has launched a Parliamentary petition calling on Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley to invest in the club.
Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central and a lifelong Magpies fan, is raising the issue of the Sports Direct tycoon’s stewardship of the Premier League side which she perceives to be failing manager Rafa Benitez.
Her action follows a separate fan-led online petition titled If Rafa Goes I Go where supporters threaten to withdraw from the club if Benitez is not satisfactorily backed by the owner.
A quick thread on my #nufc petition— chi onwurah (@ChiOnwurah) July 24, 2018
Last week constituents contacted me about the #ifrafagoeswego campaign asking what I could do to support it. On Friday someone sent me the link to the petition: https://t.co/XH0N8BRpZK
The manager is yet to commit to the club further than the end of his contract which is up next year.
Supporters fear that Ashley is failing to invest in the club despite the TV millions which were secured by Benitez guiding the team to Premier League safety on a tight budget last season.
The MP was expected to hand in the petition, which has been backed by other North East MPs, on Tuesday evening.
Ms Onwurah said: “Fans and supporters of Newcastle United want to see our manger Rafa Benitez given the backing and resources needed for the team to compete effectively in the Premiership.
“They have complained to me that they do not see any sign of owner Mike Ashley being committed to supporting Rafa and providing the funding needed to build a really strong team.”
A statement from her office said: “Ms Onwurah believes football is woven into the Geordie spirit and so lack of commitment to investing in the team undermines the social and economic fabric of Newcastle and Tyneside.
“She believes it is never too late and owner Mike Ashley should now show his appreciation of Rafa Benitez, Newcastle and Tyneside by investing in players, club facilities and the wider community.”
The petition stated: “The Petitioners therefore request the House of Commons to take action to prevent unscrupulous football club owners from exploiting the clubs, their fans and local communities, with particular reference to Mike Ashley and Newcastle United FC.”