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Newcastle United Director of Football appointment – Facing serious delay unless deadlock broken

2 years ago
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Just over seven weeks ago, 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 reached between the two clubs to significantly shorten this period of gardening leave.

However…both Craig Hope of The Mail and Martin Hardy of The Times are now reporting that almost two months into his spell of gardening leave, there is no sign of any agreement being reached on Dan Ashworth between the two clubs.

The Mail say that their understanding is that if no compensation figure is agreed, Dan Ashworth could be made to wait until November before taking up his role as Newcastle United Director of Football, as it is believed there was a nine month spell of gardening leave as part of his Brighton contract, if he left the club.

Meanwhile, The Times say that their information is that it is “millions” that Brighton are looking for as compensation, before they would release Dan Ashworth from that gardening leave clause.

The Mail reporting – 30 March 2022:

‘That would leave chief scout Steve Nickson, co-owner Amanda Staveley and head coach Eddie Howe to oversee summer spending, as was the case in January. Given Ashworth’s remit will be far broader than simply recruitment, club sources are relaxed about that scenario should it be the case.

A new chief executive is also expected to be appointed before the end of the season, while intermediaries say Nicky Hammond, a consultant brought in on a short-term basis in December, is continuing to take calls on Newcastle matters, even if that is in an informal capacity.’

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.

Having said that, surely the two clubs will be able to reach a fair compromise that will allow Dan Ashworth to take up the Newcastle job at the end of this season.

Especially so when 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.

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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