Dan Ashworth hails ‘great opportunity’ as Newcastle United confirm key strategic move with league champions

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There was a surprise announcement at Newcastle United as the Magpies confirmed a partnership with the current NIFL Irish Premiership champions.

Newcastle United have announced they have agreed a ‘strategic partnership’ with NIFL Irish Premiership champions Larne.

The East Antrim based club celebrated the first league title in their 134-year history in April when a 2-0 win at Crusaders ensured they topped the table and secured a first ever venture into the Champions League.

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Former Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth is now at Newcastle and working on improving the academy set-upFormer Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth is now at Newcastle and working on improving the academy set-up
Former Brighton technical director Dan Ashworth is now at Newcastle and working on improving the academy set-up

Their attempts to progress through the qualifying rounds fell at the first hurdle despite a brave performance in a 3-2 aggregate defeat in a first qualifying round tie against against Finnish champions HJK Helsinki. Larne are also facing an exit from the Europa Conference League after Tiernan Lynch’s side suffered a 3-0 loss in the first leg of their second qualifying round tie at Kosovo champions Ballkani on Tuesday night.

However, there are high hopes for the new league season as they look to build on their unprecedented success last time out and the new agreement with Newcastle will see both clubs benefit.

The Magpies have confirmed they will ‘explore best practice as they develop their respective talent pathways’ and ‘share knowledge and experience across coach development, scouting and recruitment’. Young players from both clubs could also be handed an opportunity to gain experience with the other as part of the agreement. Newcastle United Women will also form a key part of the partnership as they look to form links with their Larne counterparts.

In a statement released on the club website, Magpies sporting director Dan Ashworth, said: “We are very pleased to be working alongside Larne Football Club as we develop and expand our talent pathway.

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“I have been hugely impressed by Kenny Bruce and his team, and this will be a great opportunity to share best practice and innovations that will benefit both clubs. Our next generations of talent will only support and sustain both clubs’ future successes and we look forward to supporting one another on our respective journeys.”

Larne owner Kenny Bruce added: “We have been involved in extremely positive discussions with Newcastle United for some time over a strategic working relationship, which we feel can be mutually beneficial.

“At Larne, we have made no secret that our aim is to work with the top young talent on the island of Ireland and we have been making changes to our Academy at all levels, as we seek to make this aim a reality.”

Bruce also praised the Magpies for making progress in their attempts to produce young talent from their academy after the likes of Elliot Anderson and Lewis Miley progressed into the senior setup at St James Park.

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He said: “Newcastle United, particularly through Dan Ashworth, has recognised the strides we have made within our structure and the emphasis we are placing on developing the best young players.

“At all levels it is clear both Newcastle United and Larne are clubs moving in the right direction and we feel this affiliation will play a huge part in helping to grow that momentum. We are very excited to see what the future holds for players, coaches and staff as we work together over the coming weeks, months and years.”

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