Joey Barton worried about "power struggle" at Newcastle United

Joey Barton in action for QPR on August 30, 2014
© Getty Images
Joey Barton is worried that the "power struggle" between Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and head coach Rafael Benitez could culminate in the latter leaving the club.

Joey Barton has warned Newcastle United fans that the disagreements between club owner Mike Ashley and head coach Rafael Benitez could culminate in the latter leaving St James' Park.

The Spaniard has made no secret of the fact that he is unhappy with the Magpies' transfer dealings this summer following promotion back to the Premier League.

In response, Ashley has given an interview to Sky Sports News in which he claims that the club cannot compete financially with the top flight's big guns, and that Benitez is well aware of this.

Barton, who played for Newcastle United between 2007 and 2011, insists that he understands Benitez's grievances in terms of not wanting to be vulnerable in a much harder league than the Championship.

"The team that wins the Championship – you need a totally different set of players almost, to adapt to the Premier League. Because you go from being expected to win every week against lesser opposition to trying to stay in games and trying to nick points against superior opposition," he told talkSPORT.

"I can understand Benitez's frustrations. There are clearly two egos, a power struggle behind the scenes about what's going on. Benitez is loved by the fans, Ashley not – and I think that will play out. It usually ends up with the manager going.

"I think if that was to happen now, I think that would be catastrophic for Newcastle, especially on the eve of what is going to be an incredibly tough season for them. I just hope for the fans that it resolves itself pretty soon because I think what people can never take away is the passion of the Geordie fans."

The Magpies get their season underway on Sunday with a home game against Tottenham Hotspur.

Newcastle United's English owner Mike Ashley gestures before the English Premier League football match between Southampton and Newcastle United at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton on September 13, 2014
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