Dan Ashworth’s arbitration case based on allegation Newcastle United placed him on gardening leave prematurely

Dan Ashworth will base his arbitration case against Newcastle United on a claim that the club breached his contract by placing him on gardening leave before he officially informed them of his desire to leave.

The Athletic reported last month that Ashworth is set to take Newcastle to arbitration to help facilitate his move to Manchester United where he hopes to become sporting director.

According to people briefed on the matter, Ashworth believes Newcastle’s handling of his departure makes his gardening leave null and void.

The 53-year-old was placed on gardening leave in February after the Tyneside club learned he wished to explore the opportunity to become sporting director at Old Trafford but, he says, before he formally told them.

Manchester United are supporting Ashworth’s bid to be released from his present contract and are set to argue that Newcastle acted prematurely by putting him on gardening leave before he was asked to provide a letter of resignation.

The claim comes after it was revealed Ashworth sent an email to his Newcastle United address detailing contact made with INEOS’ inbound chief executive, Omar Berrada — who will join Manchester United from Manchester City later this summer.

The correspondence — which Newcastle believe would represent an illegal approach from Manchester United — followed a conversation between the pair in which Ashworth stated his desire to become sporting director at Old Trafford.

The email, which was discovered during Newcastle’s preparation for the arbitration case, also included confidential information on the package paid to facilitate Ashworth’s move from Brighton to Newcastle.

The Athletic has contacted Newcastle for comment.

Ashworth has been identified as the ideal candidate to help spearhead new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s overhaul of football operations at Old Trafford.


Berrada (right) will officially become Manchester United’s new CEO when he leaves Manchester City later this summer (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Jason Wilcox, named technical director in April, will report into Ashworth in Manchester United’s new-look hierarchy.

“I think Dan Ashworth is clearly one of the top sporting directors in the world, I’ve no doubt,” Ratcliffe said in February.

“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.”

Newcastle were seeking as much as £20million in compensation but Manchester United are unwilling to pay more for Ashworth than the fee paid to Brighton for his services in 2022.

He moved to Brighton in 2019 following a spell as technical director at the Football Association, where he started in 2012 and played a key role in the development of the men’s and women’s national teams.

He was credited with playing a large part in England’s double World Cup win at under-17 and under-20 level in 2017.

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(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)