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Manchester United refuse to be held to ransom over Dan Ashworth pursuit

Dan Ashworth

Manchester United are sticking to their valuation of around £3 million for Dan Ashworth and are refusing to be held to ransom over Newcastle’s compensation demands for their sporting director.

Ashworth’s appointment is the next major change in co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s restructure, with manager Erik ten Hag staying at Old Trafford following an end of a season review.

But United are nowhere near close to agreeing a deal for Ashworth, as Newcastle want £15million plus add-ons for him to be released from his contract after two years at St James’ Park. He has been on gardening leave since it was made clear he wanted to join United.

Ratcliffe has described the situation of Ashworth being on leave until 2026 as “absurd” when he spoke on the matter earlier in the year. But negotiations have been deadlocked over the former Football Association director’s release.

Ashworth may take Newcastle to arbitration in an attempt to force through the move and have a third party end the acrimonious stand-off. United are understood to view the demands as unreasonable and are on a tighter budget this summer for profit-and-sustainability rules.

Ratcliffe has made sweeping changes at United since his £1.3 billion investment for a 27.7 per cent stake in the club. Omar Berrarda has been recruited from rivals Manchester City as CEO and will start next month. Jason Wilcox has started as technical director after arriving from Southampton, but no deal has been struck for Ashworth.

“A bit silly, personally,” said Ratcliffe in February when discussing the situation. “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.

“We had a very grown-up conversation with City about Omar Berrada. When things got done we sorted it out very amicably. They could see why he wanted to take that challenge.”

Ashworth is still paid while on gardening leave with Newcastle and United had wanted him to start over the summer.