NEWCASTLE UNITED are still to formulate a ‘Plan B’ that would provide them with an alternative option if Rafael Benitez refuses to sign a new deal to remain as manager.

Benitez’s future plans remain shrouded in mystery, with the Spaniard still pondering his next move after negotiations with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley came to an end.

The Newcastle hierarchy submitted a formal contract offer to Benitez in mid-May, and are adamant they will not be entering into new discussions even though the 59-year-old is due to become a free agent on June 30.

Benitez has always insisted he would ideally like to remain at St James’ Park, but a number of his concerns at Newcastle’s long-term transfer plans remain unaddressed.

The Magpies’ summer transfer budget is understood to be around £60m, plus anything raised by player sales, although this sum encompasses wages, agents’ payments and loan agreements as well as transfer fees.

Of equal concern is Ashley’s insistence that there will not be any fundamental changes to the way Newcastle currently conduct their business. Benitez will have to run all prospective deals past Ashley via Charnley, a process that has resulted in a series of log-jams in the past and which Benitez blames for missing out on a number of leading targets.

Ashley and Charnley remain confident Benitez will eventually sign a new deal, and sources claim the duo are not concerned at speculation linking the former Champions League winner with a possible move to Italian side Roma.

As a result, they have not approached anyone else to be manager and do not intend to put detailed back-up plans in place ahead of this month’s contractual deadline.

That creates the worrying prospect of Newcastle being left in the lurch if Benitez delays his decision for another couple of weeks before deciding to head elsewhere.

In such a scenario, it could be the middle of July before the Magpies appoint the Spaniard’s successor, by which time their players will already have returned to pre-season training ahead of their trip to the Premier League Asia Cup.

The situation is further clouded by the ongoing takeover talk, although things have not really moved on in the last couple of weeks since news of the Bin Zayed Group’s interest in buying out Ashley was made public.

The Dubai-based group, led by Sheikh Khaled, continue to insist publicly and privately that their attempts to complete a £350m buyout remain on track, but a number of different sources continue to question whether they will be able to complete a deal.

Newcastle continue to refuse to make any public comments on the situation, other than confirming the authenticity of the statements that have been issued by the Bin Zayed Group in the last couple of weeks.