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Dan Ashworth decision marks crucial step in Manchester United’s Ineos revolution

Newcastle have placed sporting director Ashworth on gardening leave after he told the club of his desire to move to Old Trafford

Miguel Delaney
Chief Football Writer
Monday 19 February 2024 16:05 GMT
Ten Hag - We could easily have scored five goals

Manchester United are prepared to wait on Dan Ashworth as Newcastle United insist on full compensation of up to £20m for their sporting director.

Ashworth has been placed on gardening leave after informing Newcastle of his desire to join Manchester United, although no contact has yet been made between the clubs.

Ashworth’s decision marks another crucial step in Ineos’s attempt to modernise Manchester United’s football department, and he has long been their top target. It is understood that a deal in principle was only struck between Ashworth and the new Old Trafford hierarchy on Sunday afternoon. The 52-year-old had previously turned down an approach on the basis of the terms of the offer, but he was always keen to join.

Ashworth is now set to become the new technical director at Manchester United, although there may be a rejig to director of football operations. Ineos had temporarily considered splitting the role when it seemed like they couldn’t get the Newcastle executive, but his prospective appointment means they are pressing on with the original model for the structure.

Ashworth joined Newcastle in 2022 and previously held positions with the FA and Brighton (Getty)

That will now mean that a prospective head of recruitment will report to Ashworth rather than sit alongside him. That role will remain the last major football position to be filled, in the event of everything going as planned with Ashworth.

Newcastle will insist on full compensation of £20m when they eventually receive a formal approach from Old Trafford. Ineos are prepared to wait, though, as they feel that figure is unrealistic. They also believe it is worth waiting a few months for the ideal candidate, who represents a long-term change of direction.

Talks with Ashworth were led by board member Jean-Claude Blanc, although it is in line with plans from new chief executive Omar Berrada, recruited from Manchester City.

Dave Brailsford had wanted former Liverpool executive Julian Ward for the role but Ashworth has long been the overall favourite.

Paul Mitchell, the former Monaco director, has been mentioned as the potential head of recruitment but that looked more likely when the position was to sit alongside a technical director.

“We are naturally disappointed that Dan has chosen to leave, however our exciting journey doesn’t stop and the process to recruit a new sporting director will begin immediately,” read a statement from Darren Eales, Newcastle United CEO. “We thank Dan for his efforts at Newcastle United and we wish him and his family well for the future.”

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