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Sir Jim Ratcliffe blasts Newcastle for “absurd” Dan Ashworth decision

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has accused Newcastle of being unreasonable and “silly” amidst the ongoing row over Dan Ashworth.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who recently became a 25% co-owner of Manchester United, has openly criticised Newcastle’s stance in the transfer debacle surrounding Dan Ashworth. With Ratcliffe’s investment receiving the green light from both the Premier League and the FA, Manchester United’s focus has shifted towards bolstering its management team, eyeing Dan Ashworth for the role of sporting director.

Ashworth expressed his desire over the weekend to leave Newcastle and join Manchester United, a move that led to Manchester United formally approaching Newcastle.

Newcastle placed Ashworth on gardening leave and are reportedly demanding an exorbitant £20 million in compensation for his services – a demand United finds excessive and is unwilling to meet.

Addressing the media for the first time since the investment was finalised, Sir Jim said, “I think Dan Ashworth is clearly one of the top sporting directors in the world, I’ve no doubt. He’s a very capable person. 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 the sporting director at Manchester City because you would just be maintaining a level, at Manchester United you’ve got quite a significant building job. I think he would be a very good addition to Manchester United but he needs to decide whether he’s going to make that jump.”

“We’ve obviously had words with Newcastle. They would clearly be disappointed to lose Dan. Newcastle have been very, very successful, they’ve done really well since the new ownership, they play some good football and it’s transformed the club. I understand why they would be disappointed to lose Dan.”

“But then you can’t equally criticise Dan. It is a transient industry. It’s not like my world of chemicals, nobody ever goes from DOW to Ineos, you stay where you are. Football is transient. But you would understand why Dan is interested. It’s the ultimate challenge for a sporting director so we’ll have to see how it unfolds.”

Ratcliffe added, “It’s a bit silly, personally. I won’t get dragged into that. What I do think is completely absurd is suggesting a man who is really good at his job sits in his garden for one-and-a-half years. That’s completely stupid.”

Ratcliffe drew parallels to a similar situation with Omar Berrada’s move from Manchester City to Manchester United, where discussions were handled in a mature manner, leading to an amicable resolution. He praised the professional approach to such transitions in the football industry, contrasting it with Newcastle’s current stance on Ashworth’s situation.

Ratcliffe said about Berrada, “We had a very grown-up conversation with Manchester City about Omar. They were very, very disappointed in Omar’s decision but Omar again went for the same reasons. But we had a very grown-up conversation with them and when things calmed down we sorted it out very amicably, really.”

“At the end of the day, they could accept why Omar wanted to take on that challenge and they didn’t want to stand in his way. And you look at Pep with his footballers: if he has a footballer who doesn’t want to play for Manchester City, he says fine. He doesn’t tell him to sit in a garden for one-and-a-half years. He doesn’t do that.”

“It’s not the way the UK works, it’s not the way the law works in the UK. It supports a period of time that is sensible and fair but not silly periods of time.”

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