Newcastle start Sporting Director search as Ashworth put on leave

Dan Ashworth: Wanted by Manchester United

Dan Ashworth: Wanted by Manchester United

NEWCASTLE UNITED have started their search for a new Sporting Director after confirming that Dan Ashworth has been placed on gardening leave by the club.

Manchester United want the 52-year-old to head up their football operation and Ashworth has told Newcastle United he wants to leave.

Newcastle CEO Darren Eales said: "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. We thank Dan for his efforts at Newcastle United and we wish him and his family well for the future."

Ashworth formally joined the Magpies in June 2022 after a compensation package had been agreed with his former club Brighton. INEOS, who have taken a 25% stake in Manchester United and taken control of football matters at the club, have identified Ashworth as a key hire.

Dave Brailsford, the INEOS Director of Sport, has a long-standing relationship with the Newcastle man, who is the most respected Sporting Director in English football.

Ashworth first worked as a Technical Director at West Brom, when the role was in its infancy, and helped to cement the side in the Premier League with clever recruitment and development of the backroom staff and Academy.

During six years with the FA - first as Director of Elite Development and then Technical Director - he oversaw the introduction of the England DNA, upgraded coaching provision, hired elite support staff across the age ranges and masterminded the opening of St George’s Park.

On his watch, the Under-17s and U20s won their respective World Cups, the U19s won the Euros, and the senior men, led by Gareth Southgate, reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020.

At Newcastle, Ashworth was responsible for "overarching sporting strategy, football development and recruitment at all age levels.”

Speaking on Episode #20 of the TGG Podcast, when he was still at Brighton, Ashworth famously described the Sporting Director role as being “in the middle of a wheel, bring together seven departments, connecting those spokes.”

He added: “When one of those head of departments leaves, you keep the wheel spinning and find a replacement. Historically, the one who is most likely to leave is the first-team manager. The average lifespan for them in this country is around 14 months.

“The principle for a Technical Director, in my opinion, is to look after the medium to long term interests of the football club. It’s not about short-term 'get a result against Liverpool tomorrow', it’s to try and make sure the club is set up in a way that those other departments… are there for the longer-term benefits of the club.

“Another thing that’s important is the connection from the boardroom onto the pitch. Every club has a CEO and chairman - and budgets, philosophies and principles - and it’s really important we get that across, whether it’s club values or maximising the budget and making sure we’re spending the money in the right way.”

READ MORE: Dan Ashworth - The first 90 days

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