Newcastle United forced to reassess their options as proposed deal falls through

Dougie Freedman is set to remain with Crystal Palace rather than join Newcastle United <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Dougie Freedman is set to remain with Crystal Palace rather than join Newcastle United (Image: PA)

DOUGIE FREEDMAN is set to remain with Crystal Palace rather than take up the opportunity to join Newcastle United as their new sporting director.

Freedman held talks with senior Newcastle officials about a potential move to the North-East earlier this month, and was the Magpies’ preferred candidate to replace Dan Ashworth, who remains on gardening leave ahead of an intended move to Manchester United.

However, Crystal Palace chairman, Steve Parish, pledged to do all he could to keep Freedman in his current role of sporting director at Selhurst Park.

A series of talks appear to have persuaded the former Scotland international to remain with the Eagles, and he is set to sign an improved long-term contract with his current employers in the next few days.

Freedman has enjoyed considerable success since becoming Palace’s sporting director in 2019, leading the recruitment process that led to the appointment of current head coach Oliver Glasner and playing a prominent role in the scouting and purchase of Marc Guehi, Adam Wharton and Eberechi Eze, all of whom were named in the provisional England squad for the Euros earlier this week.

Co-owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi and chief executive Darren Eales are leading Newcastle’s search for Ashworth’s successor, and it had been hoped that Freedman’s appointment would be completed before the end of this month.

That will almost certainly not now happen, meaning the Magpies hierarchy will have to reassess their options.


Johannes Spors, the global sporting director of 777 Group, who are trying to take over at Everton, is also understood to have been approached at the same time that Freedman was interviewed. Spors has previously worked in senior positions at Hoffenheim, Vitesse Arnhem, Genoa and RB Leipzig, and it would be no surprise if he now became Newcastle’s leading candidate.

However, part of Freedman’s appeal was the fact that he has worked in the Premier League and has a proven track record of signing young players who subsequently improved and increased in value within the English top-flight. Spors does not have that on his CV.

Meanwhile, it has been claimed that Ashworth is set to take Newcastle to arbitration in an attempt to force through his proposed move to Old Trafford.

A report in the Daily Telegraph has claimed that Ashworth, whose gardening period is currently due to run until the latter stages of 2025, will argue he was sacked by the Magpies rather than being asked to step down.

The report claims that Ashworth believes ‘he was not asked to formally write down his resignation by Darren Eales and should not have been placed on gardening leave until he did so’. It is also suggested that Ashworth will claim Eddie Howe’s comments in a press conference discussing his proposed switch to Manchester United left him in an ‘untenable position’.

Neither Newcastle nor Manchester United have commented on the report or Ashworth’s current position, although Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has previously criticised the Magpies’ stance over their employee. Newcastle are understood to be demanding a compensation payment of around £20m in order to release Ashworth from his contract and enable him to take up a new role at Old Trafford.