Benitez issues demands to remain at Newcastle in first round of talks - report

By North-east correspondent Harry Sykes

Rafael Benitez has issued at series of demands after opening talks with Newcastle about managing the club in the Championship, according to a report.

The Spaniard signed a three-year Magpies contract in March but revealed there is a break clause in the deal that allows him to quit if the club are not in the Premier League.

Benitez has had a U-turn in the last few days after previously accepting he would leave if Newcastle went down.

The Mirror report that the Spaniard met with managing director Lee Charnley on Thursday afternoon to discuss what it would take to keep him at St James’ Park next season.

It is said Benitez wants control of scouting, reform of the training ground and medical departments and improvement of the academy.

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No agreement has been reached, and no announcement is imminent, but both parties emerged encouraged by the first round of talks.

Further meetings are set to take place in the coming days as the possibility grows that Benitez will stay on Tyneside.

Benitez is set to take some time after Newcastle’s last game of the season against Spurs on Sunday to think about the situation.

The Spaniard has established an instant rapport with supporters since replacing the unpopular Steve McClaren with 10 matches of the campaign remaining.

Following a few early teething problems, he has overseen a revival in which Newcastle put together a five-match unbeaten run to prompt hope they can maintain their Premier League status.

But Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Everton on Wednesday night has condemned the Magpies to the Premier League second tier next season.

Benitez is said to have had a change of heart about staying after being swayed by the support he has felt from fans and is convinced that, with guarantees over budgets and control, he can eventually take the Magpies back into Europe.

In other Newcastle news, Jack Colback has come up with a novel reason for the team’s failure to overcome Aston Villa last Saturday.