Dan Ashworth joins Manchester United as sporting director

Manchester United have confirmed the appointment of Dan Ashworth as their new sporting director after reaching an agreement with Newcastle.

The two clubs issued a joint statement on Monday announcing that Ashworth, who was placed on garden leave by Newcastle earlier this year amid interest from United, had been released from his contract at St James’ Park.

No compensation details have been disclosed but it is understood Ashworth will be able to begin his new role at Old Trafford with immediate effect.

The statement read: “Newcastle United and Manchester United have reached an agreement for the immediate release of Dan Ashworth from his contractual obligations at Newcastle United.

“The terms of this agreement remain confidential between the clubs. Newcastle United thanks Dan for his services and wishes him well for the future.”

United’s interest in Ashworth became apparent after Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos company completed the purchase of a minority stake in the club and subsequently took over the running of the Red Devils’ football operations.

There were reports Newcastle were seeking £20million compensation to release Ashworth, a figure Ratcliffe described as “a bit silly” back in February, but a compromise has now been reached.

Ashworth becomes the latest major off-field addition to the United set-up after Omar Berrada left Manchester City to take over as chief executive and new academy director Jason Wilcox arrived from Southampton.

Close up of Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Sir Jim Ratcliffe (pictured) was keen to bring Ashworth to Old Trafford (Peter Byrne/PA)

Ashworth first came to prominence for his work at West Brom before moving to the Football Association as its technical director in 2012.

Prior to joining Newcastle in 2022, Ashworth had been with Brighton.

Speaking earlier this year when a deal for Ashworth was still be to struck, Ratcliffe said: “I think Dan Ashworth is clearly one of the top sporting directors in the world. I’ve no doubt he’s a very, very capable person.

“And he’s interested in the Manchester United job because it’s probably the biggest sporting director job in the world just now, with the biggest challenge.

“It would be different if you were sporting director at Manchester City, because you’re just maintaining a level. With Manchester United, you’ve got quite a significant building job.”

Ratcliffe admitted then discussions with Newcastle were difficult because the Magpies were so reluctant to lose him.

“I understand why they would be disappointed to lose Dan but then you can’t equally criticise Dan because it is a transient industry,” Ratcliffe said.

“What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting that a man who’s really good at his job sits in his garden for one-and-a-half years.”