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Newcastle put director Ashworth on leave amid reported Man United interest

Serena Taylor / Newcastle United / Getty

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Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth has been put on gardening leave after reportedly telling the club he wants to join Manchester United.

United are understood to be keen to bring Ashworth to Old Trafford as part of an overhaul of the club's structure following Jim Ratcliffe's deal to acquire a 25 percent stake and take control of football operations.

The chairman of chemicals giant INEOS has moved quickly to strengthen United's football leadership group, with recruitment a particular area of focus.

Britain's Press Association news agency said the 52-year-old, who was previously Football Association technical director before taking up a similar position at Brighton, had stepped away from his duties at St James' Park.

Ashworth, who has been in post at St James' Park for 20 months, was a key appointment by the Magpies' new Saudi-backed owners after they completed their takeover of the club in October 2021.

It is understood there has not yet been formal contact between the Premier League clubs, and Ashworth was in the stands at St. James' Park on Saturday as Eddie Howe's men played out a 2-2 draw with Bournemouth.

Howe admitted Friday that he had "concerns" over Ashworth's knowledge of the club's inner workings as speculation mounted over his interest in the Old Trafford job.

Asked after Saturday's match if he had spoken to Ashworth since his press conference on Frida,y he replied: "No."

Newcastle have not commented on the situation, which would leave them with a major gap to plug.

Reports said Newcastle want £20 million in compensation and that in the absence of a deal Ashworth may not be able to start a new job until early 2026.

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