Dan Ashworth breaks silence on Brighton exit as Eddie Howe welcomes director of football role at Newcastle United

Newcastle United bound Dan Ashworth has said an emotional farewell to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Dan Ashworth has bid an emotional farewell to Brighton and Hove Albion ahead of his expected move to Newcastle United.

Ashworth is leaving the Seagulls after three-and-a-half-years to take up the position as director of football at St James’ Park.

The 50-year-old was among a number of candidates to be interviewed for the role, which is hoped will propel the Magpies to new levels on and off the pitch.

And Ashworth’s reputation speaks for itself. He previously spent six years as the England FA’s director of elite development before joining Brighton in 2018.

During his time with the FA, Ashworth played an integral role in the “England DNA” notion as Gareth Southgate’s side went on to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Ashworth’s appointment on Tyneside has not been confirmed yet but an announcement is edging closer after he said goodbye to Brighton.

‘I didn’t apply for the job’

In a statement released on Brighton’s club website on Friday morning, Ashworth said: “It was a really difficult decision.

“I thought about it for a long time and thought about it really seriously because I wasn’t looking for a job. I didn’t apply for the job and I have been really happy at Brighton.

“It’s a brilliant club, it’s really well run, there’s really good people to work with and Tony and Paul (Barber) run it in the right way.”

‘I leave with a heavy heart’

Ashworth continued: “I have been lucky that the club have allowed me two days to have a handover, to speak to all the staff, to say goodbye.

“I was allowed a moment with the team yesterday and genuinely said to them that this is probably the best group of players I have had the privilege of working with in terms of culture and togetherness. They’re a joy to work with.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant, I have loved every minute of it.

“I leave with a heavy heart, I genuinely do and I will be watching the progress of the club, hoping the club go from strength-to-strength and continue the outstanding progress the club has made with Tony as chairman.

“So a huge thank you to everyone, players, staff, supporters and the city, I have had a wonderful time.”

Eddie Howe ‘welcomes’ director of football appointment

Not long before Ashworth’s statement landed on Brighton’s website, Howe welcomed the appointment of a director of football.

Howe, speaking ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash with Aston Villam explained: “I’ve been used to working with a sporting director at Bournemouth, so I would encourage that.

“I believe I can work under any framework really that the club decides which way they want to go but I’ll embrace that.

“I’m a firm believer that the stronger your team is around you, the better you can deliver for the players.

“I would welcome any decision the owners make.”