Man Utd ‘baulk at’ Newcastle’s ‘unheard of’ Ashworth demand; lawyers tipped to force ‘compromise’

Lewis Oldham
Man Utd director search
Dan Ashworth and Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

According to reports, Manchester United have ‘baulked at’ Newcastle United demanding £20m for director Dan Ashworth, who is now on gardening leave.

Ashworth has only been with Newcastle since the start of 2022. He joined the Premier League club from rivals Brighton after he was pursued by PIF following their takeover.

But it has been widely reported in recent months that the 52-year-old is being eyed by Man Utd, who are in the process of being overhauled by new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Omar Berrada has already been brought in as United’s new chief executive and it was confirmed last week that Ashworth has informed Newcastle of his desire to head to Old Trafford. In response, the Magpies have placed him on gardening leave.

Newcastle are unwilling to let Ashworth leave easily and The Telegraph have indicated that they want £20m from Man Utd to let him out of his contract. The report added.

‘Telegraph Sport understands that Newcastle will now insist on a compensation fee of more than £20 million if Manchester United want him to start work before the stipulated length of his gardening leave, as Ashworth’s contractually agreed period in which he is unable to work for another top Premier League club is twice as long as initially thought.

‘That sum to release him from his contract is unheard of for a director of football but Newcastle have always maintained they were very well protected as soon as Manchester United’s interest was known in the 52-year-old.’

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The Guardian have since revealed that Man Utd have ‘baulked at’ Newcastle’s demand and an ‘intense period of haggling between the two clubs’ is now expected.

‘In the absence of compensation being paid, Ashworth’s contract is believed to contain clauses that would prevent him from beginning a new role until early 2026.

‘Manchester United, who have still to make a formal approach for Ashworth, have made it clear they are not prepared to pay anything near £20m and will endeavour to negotiate that figure down significantly.

‘Their hand is strengthened by the reality that Newcastle are obliged to pay their outgoing sporting director’s full salary during his period of gardening leave. Ultimately, it is expected that lawyers will become heavily involved and some sort of compromise reached.’

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BBC Sport meanwhile are also of the understanding that Man Utd and Newcastle are butting heads over Ashworth but Ratcliffe and Co. will ‘not be held to ransom’. The report adds.

‘It is not thought talks between the clubs have started yet.

‘Newcastle have Ashworth under contract, which prevents the 52-year-old from working for anyone else into 2025 unless compensation is agreed.

‘Newcastle believe they will be within their rights to ask Manchester United for a fee well in excess of £10m. The Old Trafford outfit, on the other hand, are determined they will not be held to ransom.’