NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United have confirmed the appointment of Dan Ashworth as the club’s first-ever sporting director, subject to Premier League approval.
Ashworth finally joins United following a three-month-long wait, after being placed on gardening leave for resigning from his post at top flight rivals Brighton & Hove Albion in February.
The 51-year-old is the first major off-field football operation appointment of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia era. It is expected to be followed by news on fresh sponsorship deals and a new CEO at St. James’ Park.
United are yet to replace former managing director Lee Charnley, with co-owners Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Amanda Staveley acting as interim CEOs to plug the gap in the club’s football executive.
A club statement, confirming the news, said: “Newcastle United are delighted to announce that Dan Ashworth will become the club’s sporting director after an agreement was reached with Brighton & Hove Albion to release him from his current contractual obligations with immediate effect.
“The terms of this agreement will remain confidential between the clubs and are subject to Premier League approval.
“Newcastle United will issue further information following the relevant approval process.”
Ashworth’s first task will be to ensure United’s summer business is conducted in a timely and positive manner for head coach Howe, with the former Bournemouth and Burnley boss pushing to get the sporting director in before the opening of the summer transfer window.
The trading window in the Premier League opens on June 10.
In January, due to the delays in appointing No.1 target Ashworth, Howe, with assistant Jason Tindall, took on de facto sporting director roles as they fielded calls from agents, worked on the minutiae of deals and sourced targets.
With Ashworth now in place, Howe can take a step back from that and focus on coaching when he has his players back from their shortened summer break on July 1.
Welcoming Ashworth’s appointment, co-owner Jamie Reuben, of RB Sports & Media, took to social media to say: “Welcome to the @NUFC family Dan.”
Ashworth is widely regarded as one the best in the business in his role, having worked as the Football Association’s technical director for six years before heading the Amex Stadium in 2018.
As part of the England DNA project, of which current Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate was a major operator, Ashworth oversaw an unprecedented transformation on the international scene with England enjoying success at all age levels, including three age-group tournament wins, as well as setting the nation on course for its recent senior team success.
“We have reached an agreement with NUFC for the immediate release of Dan Ashworth from his contractual obligations at Brighton,” a Seagulls statement read.
“We would like to thank Dan for his services, and wish him well for the future.
“David Weir has been appointed as the club’s new technical director with immediate effect.”