Clear front-runner for Dan Ashworth replacement at Newcastle United emerges

Crystal Palace chief Dougie FreedmanCrystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman
Crystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman | Getty Images
Newcastle United’s chase for a new sporting director are reaching its final throes

Newcastle United have identified Crystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman as their main candidate to replace Dan Ashworth, according to reports.

Toon chiefs wasted no time in chasing a new sporting director once the 53-year-old announced his desire to leave. Manchester United continue to haggle over a compensation package for Ashworth - considering legal action against Newcastle after placing him on gardening leave.

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The Magpies initially demanded a £20million fee to release him from his contract early. Red Devils minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has publicly bemoaned the situation on several occasions - most recently at the London Marathon.

Newcastle’s statement in February revealed the search to find Ashworth’s successor began immediately. Interviews are understood to have taken place in recent months and are nearing their completion.

Options include Paul Mitchell, the former Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco chief linked with Man United before Ashworth’s exit. Ex-Roma chief Tiago Pinto has also been mentioned following his departure from the Stadio Olimpico earlier this year.

But the Daily Mail claim Freedman is now the front-runner to take the reins at St James’ Park. The current Palace supremo has played for and managed the club before becoming sporting director in 2017.

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His track record includes signing Marc Guehi, Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise, who have since become established Premier League stars. There would reportedly be no issue over Freedman’s compensation package.

Newcastle are hopeful of making a permanent appointment ahead of the summer transfer window. As it stands, preparations have seen head of recruitment Steve Nickson and Eddie Howe work in unison.

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