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Sir Jim Ratcliffe warns Newcastle against 'absurd' Ashworth plan amid £20m row

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NEWCASTLE would be “absurd” if they tried to hold Dan Ashworth to his 18-month gardening leave before letting him join Manchester United as sporting director.

New Man Utd supremo Sir Jim Ratcliffe has identified Ashworth as his first choice but dismissed Newcastle’s demand for up to £20m in compensation and the threat that the new man would not be able to start work at Old Trafford until the end of next year.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has labelled a £20million compensation package for Dan Ashworth as 'silly'

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe has labelled a £20million compensation package for Dan Ashworth as ‘silly’Credit: AP
Ashworth has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle

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Ashworth has been placed on gardening leave by NewcastleCredit: PA

Ratcliffe said: “Talking about £20m seems 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.

“We had a very grown up conversation with City about Omar Berrada, when we approached him to become our chief executive.

“We sorted it out very amicably. They could see why he wanted to take that challenge.

“You look at Pep [Guardiola]. When he’s done with one of his footballers he doesn’t want them to sit in the garden for one and a half years.

“He doesn’t do that. That’s not the way the UK works or the law works.

“Dan Ashworth is clearly one of top sporting directors in the world.

“I have no doubt he is a very capable person. He is interested in Manchester United because it’s the biggest challenge at the biggest club in the world.

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“It would be different at City because you’re maintaining a level. Here it’s a significant rebuilding job and he would be a very good addition. He needs to decide if he is going to make that jump.

“We have had words with Newcastle and I understand why they would be disappointed. They have done really well since the new ownership.

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“But you can’t criticise Dan because it’s a transient industry and this is the ultimate challenge.”

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