Dan Ashworth is to become Newcastle’s new sporting director after the Magpies finally got their man.
Amanda Staveley’s 80 per cent Saudi-backed consortium identified the former Football Association technical director as a key figure in their ambitious plans for the Tyneside club as they completed their takeover at St James’ Park in October last year, but have had to remain patient in their pursuit.
Ashworth resigned from a similar role at Brighton in February with the Seagulls confirming he had done so to take up a position at another Premier League club, but insisted he would see out “an extended period of gardening leave” in line with his existing contract.
Protracted negotiations have taken place since amid reports that the south coast club wanted £5million in compensation to release him from his contractual obligations, but a deal has now been struck.
A Newcastle statement 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.”
The 51-year-old joined Brighton in 2018 with an impressive reputation after his spell with the FA and helped the club to establish itself in the Premier League.
His resignation was greeted with disappointment, but his former employers thanked him for his contribution as they confirmed his departure.
A Brighton statement said: “Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United have reached an agreement for the immediate release of Dan Ashworth from his contractual obligations at Brighton.
“The terms of this agreement, which is subject to regulatory approval, will remain confidential between the clubs.
“We would like to thank Dan for his services and wish him well for the future.”
Ashworth’s impending arrival on Tyneside could hardly be better timed with the Magpies hoping to build upon a successful January transfer window, during which they invested more than £90million in Kieran Trippier, Chris Wood, Bruno Guimaraes, Dan Burn and loan signing Matt Targett, to fuel a climb away from the relegation zone.
Head coach Eddie Howe is keen to bolster his squad once again in an attempt to improve upon an 11th-place finish and has already indicated his willingness to work with a sporting director.
Howe said recently: “We have a lot of improving to do behind the scenes to get to be the club that we want to be. That’s in all areas.
“We want to build the club and, to do that, you need the right people and the right appointments to happen.”