MIKE ASHLEY seemed to flash a V-sign to buzz Newcastle fans after they took the team to dinner last night.
The Toon owner under the fire needed a police escort to his taxi after leaving the Rialto Italian restaurant when a dozen demonstrators mocked him and chanted, "Where's the money going?"
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez and chief executive Lee Charnley sat next to Ashley at the table as the restaurant offered a £ 5.95 happy hour special for a walk one evening.
A dinner in the restaurant outside Newcastle revealed, "Ashley had spaghetti bolognese."
The despised Sports Direct owner left ten minutes after Benitez and the players, but then had to let the fans run into his waiting carrier.
Once upon a time in the taxi, the billionaire lost his calm and seemed to give the Magpies fans a V-mark.
But an Ashley spokesman told The Sun, "Mike did not give the fans a V-mark.
"The attached photos show he is smiling and enjoying the evening.
"Anyone who saw Match of the Day over the weekend will also realize that Mike is very respectful in his reactions to fans."
Ashley had treated Benitez and his fighting Newcastle players for dinner to prevent a full-blown crisis on Tyneside.
Toon has won seven more games in the Premier League this season and alarm bells are already ringing in the relegation zone.
Ashley hopes that by rolling and feeding the staff and players, he can increase morale in the ranks of the team.
And the dinner date was also an attempt to get Benitez to the side while the Newcastle fans are calling for Ashley's head.
Protests on Tyneside were ripe this season after billionaire Ashley refused to win new players in the summer.
The 54-year-old official put the club up for sale a year ago and estimates it at £ 380 million.
But despite the interest of Amanda Staveley he did not sell.
The former CEO of Manchester United and Chelsea, Peter Kenyon, has expressed interest, but does not want to raise funds yet.
There is also growing unrest about Benitez's future at St. James Park, with the Spaniard out of contract at the end of the season.
The dinner-restaurant meeting is the first time that Benitez saw Ashley face to face for five months.
He was at St James's Park for the 2-0 loss to Leicester on Saturday, but did not speak with the manager.