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Dan Ashworth set to be named Newcastle United’s new director of football after leaving Brighton post

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle United look set to name Dan Ashworth as the club’s new director of football, after the Brighton executive resigned from his post at the Amex Stadium.

On Monday morning the Seagulls confirmed that Ashworth had formally handed in his notice and while he works the as yet unspecified period has been placed on gardening leave.

The statement also confirmed that former Football Association chief Ashworth, lauded for his pioneering England DNA project while working with the governing body, would join a “rival” club. Arab News understands that club to be Newcastle United.

The Brighton statement read: “Dan Ashworth has resigned from his position as technical director to take a similar role at another Premier League club. In line with his contractual terms, Ashworth will now begin an extended period of gardening leave, after which he will be able to take up a new position elsewhere.

“He will continue to report to deputy chairman and chief executive Paul Barber for any duties required during his notice period but, as is standard procedure with such occurrences, he will not be expected to attend the club’s premises or matches after his handover is completed later this week.”

Newcastle’s search for a director of football and chief executive, as revealed by Arab News, are set to come to a conclusion within weeks, according to club sources.

Both posts may yet be filled by the end of February.

Former Chelsea and Monaco football executive Michael Emenalo had been linked with the director of football role, while names such as Peter Kenyon, formerly of the Blues and Manchester United, have been ruled out of the running for the CEO job.

Speaking about Ashworth’s exit, Albion’s deputy chairman Paul Barber admitted he would be a loss, but they already had a succession plan in mind should “a rival” come calling for his much sought-after services.

“We are sorry to learn of Dan’s decision,” he said. “He’s been an important part of the club’s senior management team since joining us from The FA, and has made a significant contribution to our club’s progress in the Premier League and Women’s Super League.

“On a personal level, I will be sad to see Dan leave as we’d developed a close day-to-day working relationship. Dan’s been an excellent colleague and has become a good friend as well. I wish Dan and his family well for the future.

“However, as is the case with all top-quality people in any industry, we are always conscious of the risk of losing key staff to a rival. With that in mind, we always put in place contingencies and succession plans that are designed to minimize the impact on our club.

“As such, our assistant technical director, David Weir, will now step up and assume the role of acting technical director. He is someone with an excellent knowledge of the role and of our club’s culture from working side-by-side with Dan.

“As previously, we will conduct a search process for the role of technical director, as it is only right to do so. We anticipate a lot of high-caliber applicants but we also fully expect and hope David will be a candidate in this process.”

Brighton chairman Tony Bloom echoed that sentiment, while wishing Ashworth well for the future.

“We are extremely disappointed that Dan will no longer be our technical director,” he said. “He leaves a significant legacy in place and for that we are greatly appreciative. Dan’s done an outstanding job and helped build on the progress the club had already made across all of our technical areas. I wish Dan and his family well for the future.”

Meanwhile, head coach Eddie Howe has been reflecting on the January transfer window and his five new signings ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Everton to St. James’ Park.

And, while there has been some criticism of the club’s inability to sign another striker at the end of winter trading, Howe said he had no regrets about the business done last month.

“We ended the window stronger as a team, as a squad. I think the beauty of what we’ve been able to do – signing five players, on the face of it, seems a lot – we have been able to drip feed players into the team, and have not had to do it all at once.

“It feels like we have strengthened the group without destabilizing the team, which can happen when you sign five players. The window was challenging but I have no complaints and no regrets. The club has supported me and the team, have tried to give us everything we need to stay up.

“It wasn’t perfect, but I think we did the best we could given the circumstances.”

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