Manchester United agreement on hold as Newcastle United close in on deal

Wolves via Getty Images
Newcastle United are close to appointing a new sporting director after Dan Ashworth’s departure.

Eddie Howe has confirmed he has been consulted over the sporting director position as Newcastle United close in on an appointment.

The Magpies are searching for a replacement for Dan Ashworth, who was placed on gardening leave in February after signalling his intention to join Manchester United. Newcastle want a sizeable compensation package to release Ashworth from his contract before January 2026.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With negotiations currently at an impasse, it’s understood Ashworth is set to take Newcastle to arbitration in order to facilitate his switch to Old Trafford. New Red Devils co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe previously labelled Newcastle’s demands as “absurd” and “completely stupid”.

Crystal Palace chief Dougie FreedmanCrystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman
Crystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman | Getty Images

But while that has rumbled on in the background, the process to replace Ashworth has been ongoing, with Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman understood to be the frontrunner. And Howe, without maybe knowing it, has hinted that an appointment is near.

Howe said two weeks ago he hadn’t been consulted regarding the sporting director position but when asked the same question on Friday, he replied “yes” before saying: ‘I’ve spoken to respective people involved in the process. I haven’t been involved in any of the early stages. I’m coming in from the side, so it’s difficult for me to give an opinion. But I have been consulted and I think that’s important.”

When Freedman’s name was put to the 46-year-old he said: “I’ve got no idea on that, I’m not involved in the day-to-day aspect of recruiting that person whoever that may be, I’m just doing my job. But when that is decided by the club, it’ll be a big step forward for us.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the absence of a sporting director, Howe along with the club’s hierarchy and head of recruitment Steve Nickson have been preparing for a challenging summer, with their transfer budget again dictated by Premier League Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSR).

Howe hopes the position will be filled before the window opens. He said: “Ideally. With any transfer window, whether it's January or the summer, if you can be best prepared with the best tools you'll have better results.

“So yes, but I don't think it's absolutely imperative because we will work regardless within the same systems and the same way we've always done. If you look back at our transfer windows since I've been here, I've been pleased.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.