Dan Ashworth set for Newcastle United arrival before transfer window opens? Clubs now in compromise talks

    It is now coming up to sixteen weeks ago, when Brighton released an official statement (see below) confirming that Dan Ashworth was leaving the club.

    The worst kept secret in football, being that he will become Director of Football at Newcastle United under the new St James Park ownership.

    In their statement, Brighton stated, ‘In line with his contractual terms, Ashworth will now begin an extended period of gardening leave, after which he will be able to take up a new position elsewhere.’

    The expectation was that agreement would then be swiftly reached between the two clubs to significantly shorten this period of gardening leave.

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    However, when we reached early April and still no sign of Dan Ashworth at St James Park, The Times and The Mail reported that their information was that if no compensation figure could be agreed, Dan Ashworth could be made to wait until November (2022) before taking up his role as Newcastle United Director of Football, as it was understood there was a nine month spell of gardening leave as part of his Brighton contract, if he left the club.

    Follow up reports quickly followed from the two newspapers, saying Brighton were holding out for a very high compensation figure (to end the gardening leave early) that the Newcastle United owners found unacceptable, with a figure of £5m reported to be what the south coast club were demanding.

    Now on Friday (27 May 2022) morning there is reported to be hope of a breakthrough.

    The Mail say that their information is that talks have now reopened between Newcastle United and Brighton, with both sides believing a resolution / compromise is possible.

    Indeed, Craig Hope (of The Mail) says the intention is that agreement can be reached in time for Dan Ashworth to take up his position at Newcastle United ahead of the summer transfer officially opening. That transfer window opening on Friday 10 June, two weeks from today.

    Whilst it would be only one part of the job at Newcastle United he would help oversee, the transfer activity is a massively important part of his role, unless a deal is reached, Dan Ashworth not arriving until months after the summer 2022 transfer window has closed. Instead, arriving at St James Park more than a year after the new NUFC owners bought the club, in time for the build up to the January 2023 transfer window.

    There is a precedent of Everton paying around £2m in compensation when director of football Steve Walsh joined from Leicester in 2016, the Newcastle United owners may well see around half the figure Brighton are demanding, as being fair.

    After so many years of Mike Ashley so often appointing people not up to the job, on both the football and business side of things at Newcastle United, as fans we have to accept that now things are being done on an ambitious and professional basis, getting the right (much sought after) people in place, won’t always be straightforward. As opposed to bringing in another JFK and / or Lee Charnley. With the new owners still to appoint their new CEO, although it has been widely reported that they are well into that recruitment process and have interviewed a number of candidates. I wouldn’t be surprised if an appointment on the CEO front is made in the very near future as well.

    Brighton have made a big thing of their club ethos is to look after their staff really well, with a key part of that being if a job at another club comes up that someone wants to move to, Brighton won’t stand in their way.

    You understand that they won’t be happy at losing Dan Ashworth but surely now Brighton are sending the wrong message to any people in the future they might want to appoint, if they are going to be seen as so unreasonable and prevent their former employee working for an entire nine months period.

    Brighton Official Announcement – 7 February 2022:

    ‘Dan Ashworth has resigned from his position as technical director to take a similar role at another Premier League club.

    Former Everton and Rangers player and Scotland international David Weir becomes the club’s acting technical director with immediate effect, having recently been promoted to assistant technical director.

    In line with his contractual terms, Ashworth will now begin an extended period of gardening leave, after which he will be able to take up a new position elsewhere.

    He will continue to report to deputy chairman and chief executive Paul Barber for any duties required during his notice period but, as is standard procedure with such occurrences, he will not be expected to attend the club’s premises or matches after his handover is completed later this week.

    Paul commented, “We are sorry to learn of Dan’s decision. He’s been an important part of the club’s senior management team since joining us from The FA, and has made a significant contribution to our club’s progress in the Premier League and Women’s Super League.

    “On a personal level, I will be sad to see Dan leave as we’d developed a close day to day working relationship. Dan’s been an excellent colleague and has become a good friend as well. I wish Dan and his family well for the future.

    “However, as is the case with all top-quality people in any industry, we are always conscious of the risk of losing key staff to a rival. With that in mind, we always put in place contingencies and succession plans that are designed to minimise the impact on our club.

    “As such, our assistant technical director, David Weir, will now step up and assume the role of acting technical director. He is someone with an excellent knowledge of the role and of our club’s culture from working side-by-side with Dan.

    “As previously, we will conduct a search process for the role of technical director, as it is only right to do so. We anticipate a lot of high-calibre applicants but we also fully expect and hope David will be a candidate in this process.”

    Chairman Tony Bloom added, “We are extremely disappointed that Dan will no longer be our technical director. He leaves a significant legacy in place and for that we are greatly appreciative.

    “Dan’s done an outstanding job and helped build on the progress the club had already made across all of our technical areas. I wish Dan and his family well for the future.”

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