Rafa Benitez is staying at Newcastle for the love of the Toon — not because owner Mike Ashley is due a sackful of cash if he quits.

The only thing keeping manager Benitez from walking out before now has been the £6million he would have had to pay to his sportswear tycoon boss for breaking his contract.

But that clause has now expired, and Benitez can quit St James’ Park for nothing.

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However, he recognises any movement in the manager’s chair could end in relegation disaster.

Even though he is putting his managerial head on the block by staying put, he doesn’t want to turn his back on the Geordie fans.

Newcastle fans adore Benitez for plugging away despite constant transfer frustrations

Without reinforcements this month, he has already forecast that survival in the Premier League this season would be ‘a miracle.’

But he will not wash his hands of the club out of respect for the supporters who continue to back him to the hilt.

Ashley faces losing his manager — but not until his contract runs out in the summer

The Magpies’ boss is gritting his teeth and getting on with the job in hand, despite enduring a torrid time at St James’ Park.

Benitez is hitting a roadblock in the transfer market with the pursuit of Miguel Almiron at a stalemate. MLS champions Atlanta United are demanding £25million for the Paraguayan forward.

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