Man Utd owner breaks silence on Newcastle United's ‘completely stupid’ Dan Ashworth stance

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe has spoken publicly about Manchester United wanting Dan Ashworth

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has slammed the “silly” possibility of Dan Ashworth spending one-and-a-half years on gardening leave at Newcastle United.

Manchester United have made no secret of their desire to snatch the 52-year-old from St James’ Park. Any chance of Ashworth staying appears unlikely, with bridges being burned on Tyneside once he angled for an exit.

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The former FA and Brighton chief only arrived at Newcastle 18 months ago as the man to spearhead the Saudi-backed revolution. However, Ashworth has already signalled his desire to join the Red Devils less than two years into the project.

His relationship with Sir Dave Brailsford - Ratcliffe’s right-hand man - is thought to be key. Ashworth invited Brailsford to speak to Newcastle players on the club’s pre-season tour in 2022.

Instead of caving into Man United, the Magpies are playing hardball, placing the sporting director on gardening leave until a compensation package is reached. Reports suggest Newcastle are demanding around £20million for Ashworth to move to Old Trafford earlier than 2026.

Speaking at a media scrum, Man United’s new minority shareholder called their sporting director job the “ultimate challenge” while blasting the prospect of Ashworth spending an extended period on gardening leave. He said: "Dan Ashworth is clearly one of the top sporting directors in the world. I've no doubt he's a very capable person. He's interested in the Manchester United job because it's probably the biggest sporting director job in the world with the biggest challenge.

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"It would be different if you were the sporting director at Manchester City because you would just be maintaining a level. At Manchester United, you've got quite a significant building job. I think he would be a very good addition to Manchester United but he needs to decide whether he's going to make that jump.

"We've obviously had words with Newcastle. They would clearly be disappointed to lose Dan. Newcastle have been very, very successful. They've done really well since the new ownership, they play some good football and it's transformed the club. I understand why they would be disappointed to lose Dan.

"But then you can't equally criticise Dan. It is a transient industry. It's the ultimate challenge for a sporting director so we'll have to see how it unfolds.

“It's a bit silly, personally. I won't get dragged into that. What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting a man who is really good at his job sits in his garden for one-and-a-half years. That's completely stupid."

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