Newcastle United sporting director makes Liverpool & Man Utd claim after £25m deal & Champions League return

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Newcastle United face challenges on and off the pitch as they look to break into the top six of the Premier League on a regular basis.

Dan Ashworth has outlined the challenges facing Newcastle United as the club looks to establish itself as a Premier League top six team.

The Magpies sealed a return to Europe for the first time in a decade last season by qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. United had last played in the competition in 2003 when Sir Bobby Robson was in charge.

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However, despite the owners’ huge ambitions, Ashworth knows finishing in the top six isn’t a guarantee, not just because of challenges on the pitch - but off it as they compete against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal.

Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“That is the vision of the football club,” said Newcastle’s sporting director. “The next number of years is to fight and get into the top six on a regular basis and compete for trophies. But in football, it can flip around really quickly as well. You can lose two or three on the trot and all of a sudden... we lost three games on the trot at the start of the season and it was ‘OK, what’s happened?’ Success has never been a straight line.

“I know it’s a bit of corny phrase, especially in the Premier League where anyone can beat anybody and things can happen really quickly. We’re on an upward trajectory but there are definitely some bumps in the round. And that’s the nature of football but we’re on the right pathway. In your question to top six, what’s really difficult is to be able to compete commercially as well.

“Some of those clubs have been a global brand for decades and that’s one of the big challenges for Peter [Silverstone], Darren [Eales] and the team as well as we’ve all got to try and work together to try and get ourselves into a situation where not only are we a top six club on the pitch but also a top six club off the pitch and really try and drive the revenues and interest in the club as well which gives us more ammunition in order to be able to compete on the pitch.”

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Newcastle increased its commercial revenue in the summer with a £25million front-of-shirt sponsorship deal with Sela. Meanwhile, Adidas will return as kit supplier for the 2023-24 campaign in what has been described as the biggest off-field deal in the club’s history.

Ashworth knows the Magpies still have a long way to go before bringing in similar figures to most of the Premier League big guns.

“We’ve got this challenge as a whole football club, it’s not just the football department,” Ashworth added. “The more revenue we can drive, the more income we can get and the easier it is to be more competitive because the budget, the playing budget is able to be increased.

“It’s also about making the most of the resources that we’ve got so we can acquire players below market value and acquire potential players rather than performance players. So players who maybe are younger that we see a huge amount of potential in. It’s about opening up pathways for the academy.

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“If Elliot’s and Lewis’ can come and step up into the Premier League, that’s a really cost efficient way of using your resources. So, as a club, it’s really important to me and to us that we look at all aspects about how we can make our resources go further.”

Should Newcastle fail to qualify for the Champions League again this season, or indeed miss out on Europe altogether, there’ll be no panic in the boardroom at St James’ Park.

Ashworth said: “A few years ago, or two years ago, Newcastle United, Brighton and West Brom, three clubs that I was fortunate to work at, would have budgets for the Football League and budgets for the Premier League. You adapt accordingly. It’s changed for us now so we’ll adjust our budgets if we haven’t got Champions League revenue and we’ll adjust our budgets if we’ve got Europa League revenue so it’s exactly the same principles. You make sure you plan well enough so you know what you can and can’t do depending on the revenue that’s coming in and that’s normal.

“There are historic top six clubs who haven’t got European revenue this year [Chelsea & Spurs] and they would have adjusted their budgets accordingly as well. Of course we want to be in the Champions League as much as we can over the coming years but it’s incredibly difficult.”

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