Man Utd latest: Newcastle to lower Dan Ashworth fee on one condition | Football

The sporting director is currently on gardening leave (Picture: Getty Images)

Newcastle are prepared to negotiate a lower compensation fee to reduce Dan Ashworth’s gardening leave, though they are still playing hardball with Manchester United.

It is almost a month since Newcastle announced that the 52-year-old had decided to leave the club following an approach from the Red Devils to be their first-ever sporting director.

However, Ashworth has a very lengthy noticed period – which is almost two years – and Newcastle have demanded in excess of £20million to let him leave early.

United and their new minority owners Ineos have always been adamant they would not pay that much, with Sir Jim Ratcliffe describing their valuation as ‘a bit silly’.

Little progress has been made in negotiations between the two clubs since then, but The Telegraph are now reporting that Newcastle want to start resolving the situation and could be prepared to compromise.

While they still want a large fee, they are ‘willing to negotiate’ from their initial £20m asking price – but only on one condition.

Newcastle’s hierarchy are extremely reluctant to let Ashworth start work at Old Trafford before the summer and will therefore only greenlight a move after the transfer window has closed.

Dan Ashworth and Newcastle boss Eddie Howe

Newcastle do not want Ashworth to move to Old Trafford before the summer (Picture: Getty)

The two sides are Champions League qualification rivals and it would certainly hamper the new regime if Ashworth is not in place to make a number of critical decisions.

Ideally, Ineos want Ashworth to oversee the appointment of a new head of recruitment – who will be responsible for overseeing an overhaul of United’s transfer team – while he will also be a critical voice in the decision over whether Erik ten Hag should keep his job or not.

If Manchester United are adamant about not over-paying for Ashworth, they will therefore have to wait until September at the earliest to finally get their man.

Ashworth’s gardening leave is due to run until the end of 2025 and Newcastle feel they are in a very strong position, with chief executive Darren Eales determined to get the best possible deal.

Talks are thought to have been amicable so far, while Newcastle are keen to draw a line under the matter so they can appoint a new sporting director.

The Magpies are skirting a slightly fine line in terms of financial fair play and cannot afford to be paying Ashworth his rather large salary for the best part of two years, while they are keen to bring in a replacement in time for this summer after initially trying to wait until next year.

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