Newcastle United supporters divided as fresh Dan Ashworth front-runner emerges

Dan Ashworth remains persona non grata at Newcastle UnitedDan Ashworth remains persona non grata at Newcastle United
Dan Ashworth remains persona non grata at Newcastle United
Johannes Spors has reportedly held “positive” talks with the Newcastle United hierarchy

Johannes Spors is now leading the race to succeed Dan Ashworth as Newcastle United sporting director, according to reports.

A never-ending saga has emerged since the 53-year-old confirmed his desire to leave the Magpies in February. Ashworth only arrived less than two years ago and is pushing to join Manchester United’s rebuild under Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

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Newcastle placed him on gardening leave as the two clubs haggle over a compensation package - with Ashworth reportedly threatening arbitration. Toon chiefs have maintained a hardball stance - demanding around £20million - while they hunt for a replacement.

Crystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman was considered the frontrunner just weeks ago and remains highly respected by the St James’ Park hierarchy. However, he is understood to have snubbed a move - committing his future to a resurgent Eagles under Oliver Glasner.

That leads 777 Partners supremo Spors - who has been interviewed for the role - as the main candidate. The 41-year-old chairs a sporting operation that owns Italian outfit Genoa, Red Star in Paris, Standard Liege of Belgium, Vasco da Gama in Brazil and Germany’s Hertha Berlin.

The Miami-based investment group are known in the UK for an attempted takeover at Everton. Recent months have seen growing uncertainty about the deal - with allegations of fraud and financial difficulties in other areas of the business.

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Spors - who Sky Sports claim has now held “positive” talks with Newcastle - is not an owner, however, and merely leads their football operation across several countries. However, the association with 777 Partners has triggered doubts among some Toon fans.

“I know he’s just an employee but the fact he works for this 777 group is a bit off-putting,” one fan posted. “There are surely better candidates out there who don’t bring that sort of baggage?”

Another disagreed, preferring to analyse his track record and footballing philosophy. The post read: “I've read a lot about him and watched some interviews. His philosophy is intensity and top mentality. 

“He doesn't like possession for possession’s sake. He seems to fit in with Howe’s philosophy (and) has a good record at all clubs he has been at. I like the sound of him.”

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