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 By PA Sport

Rafa Benitez talks key as Newcastle start planning for Championship

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley will not rush into any decisions as he deals with the fallout of the club's relegation to the Championship.

A club which has been in flux for much of Ashley's nine-year reign is in turmoil again after Rafael Benitez's team dropped out of the top flight following Sunderland's decisive victory over Everton on Wednesday night.

Benitez, 56, will be at the helm for Sunday's final-day clash with Tottenham and his future will be thrashed out thereafter. He signed a three-year contract in March but it contained a get-out clause in the event of relegation.

Press Association Sport reports that talks will take place next week in an attempt to work out the way forward, but there is little doubt that Benitez is holding all the cards.

There have been encouraging noises from his camp in recent days and the Newcastle hierarchy are eager to keep him on board, but the stark truth is that a man who began the season in charge of Real Madrid will not be short of offers and would be foolish not to consider all the options available to him.

Rafa Benitez has a break clause in his Newcastle contract allowing him to leave this summer.

However, much will need to change whatever Benitez decides.

Despite a total investment of around £80 million during the last two transfer windows, Steve McClaren and his successor were left with a squad unfit for purpose.

McClaren had reportedly sought a left-back, an experienced central defender and a proven goalscorer both during the summer and in January.

Ashley has handed the day-to-day running of the club to his football board -- managing director Lee Charnley, chief scout Graham Carr, club ambassador Bob Moncur and the head coach or manager -- and the roles of Charnley and Carr in particular will come under intense scrutiny.

However, they will not be alone and the players who have under-performed so drastically will not escape the fall-out.

Press Association Sport reports that those members of the squad who intend to walk away from the debacle may not find that easy to do, with sources indicating it will be the Magpies and not they who make those decisions.

What is certain, however, is that there will be significant changes in personnel both on and off the field.

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