Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
In the last week, the Newcastle United squad have refused any interaction with the media following a dispute with the club over player bonuses.
According to the Telegraph, the squad were promised a bonus of £4 million to share amongst the squad for avoiding relegation with an additional £1 million for each position the team finish above the bottom four. In the end, the club finished 10th in the Premier League.
After declining to give post-match interview's in their previous two pre-season friendlies in which they were defeated, the squad refused to give their 'walk-up shots' for TV companies on Monday.
This dispute is not entirely unprecedented: a similar situation occurred last season but was allegedly resolved after captain Jamaal Lascelles had a meeting with club owner Mike Ashley.
Rafa Benitez has addressed the rumours, saying, 'Things are not going well off the pitch and you can see a reflection in that on the pitch'. With the Premier League only days away, players, fans and owners alike will hope that some sort of a resolution is reached earlier rather than later.
Who, then, are the winners and losers of this debacle?
Newcastle United has long been a club in thrall to owner Mike Ashley. Expect to see players increasingly wielding their power over him if they pull this one off.
Throughout his time at the club, it has become clear that Newcastle are useful to Ashley in so far as they are a cash generator for him.
Whilst the inevitable fine that this will accrue will not be significant compared to the £10 million that he is trying to save, the long-term effects of his stance could prove to be toxic to the club's brand with Ashley at the helm.
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