Newcastle fans urge Rafael Benitez not to quit club after relegation
Newcastle fans have pleaded with Rafael Benitez not to activate the release clause in his contract and stay with the relegated club.
The Spaniard has been unable to keep the Magpies in the Barclays Premier League after accepting an initial 10-game mission to fight off relegation and further ahead, a three-year contract.
However, Newcastle could face a fight to persuade him to launch a new battle in the Sky Bet Championship and the club's Fans' Forum has addressed the 56-year-old directly.
In a statement, it said: "Message to Rafa Benitez - whilst we fully accept that the short term prospect of life in the Championship may not be as appealing as other offers that you may be presented with, we can certainly promise you that the potential rewards of the longer term would exceed any position that you consider."
Owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley, who released a statement apologising to fans after relegation was confirmed on Wednesday evening, have borne the brunt of criticism aimed at the club in the wake of a second relegation in seven years.
But while Charnley's handling of the appointment and subsequently belated departure of head coach Steve McClaren and a transfer policy which left yawning gaps in the squad will come under intense scrutiny over the coming weeks, the forum insists there should be only one short-term focus.
The statement said: "The reason for this statement is to make it perfectly clear that we want every possible resource thrown at an attempt to retain the services of our current manager.
"Rafa Benitez has demonstrated his ability to connect with the fans. Whilst we accept that to retain the services of Rafa will come 'at a price', we urge you to look ahead to the longer term benefit of Newcastle United.
"Installing Rafa as manager will have shown you the lift that it gave to our club, albeit maybe too late.
"It is imperative that you act swiftly. We need actions not words - a PR feelgood statement is not what the fans want to see.
"We need you to demonstrate your business acumen and your intent to not let this one slip away."