It’s finally happened. For several seasons Rafa had the backing of Liverpool fans and seemed untouchable, especially given the unpopularity of the American owners.
But a dismal perfomance in the league and Europe has seen his support erode drastically, and according to the Times the board have now offered him a severance deal that would see him leave the club effective immediately, but with a considerably lower payoff than his existing contract would entail.
From the Times Online article:
In what amounts to a vote of no confidence in Benitez, the Liverpool board approved a proposal to the Spaniard which would see him depart Anfield with a lucrative pay off worth in the region of £3 million up front.
According to the terms of the five-year contract he signed in March 2009, Benitez is entitled to a £16 million severance package but given their current financial predicament there is no possibility of Liverpool being able to come up with that kind of money, regardless of their desire to bring about a change of manager.
As such, the club’s hierarchy is hoping that Benitez will stand aside without demanding the windfall that he would otherwise due or else they will have no option but to allow him to continue in the role he has been in since the summer of 2004 in the knowledge that he is no longer wanted.
Though Benitez is yet to accept the offer, the chances of a compromise being reached were raised by indications from the 50-year-old that he would not be able to take the club any further if, as expected, the current restrictions on transfer spending are extended into another summer.
Despite claims by co-owner Tom Hicks last week that Liverpool are set to spend big in the coming months, the reality is that their transfer budget is currently limited to £15 million at most and there are yet to be any assurances that they will be able to re-invest the proceeds from player sales to any great extent.
When it rains it pours, eh?