Newcastle’s sporting director, Dan Ashworth, has outlined the club’s blueprint to become established as part of English football’s “top six” while, ideally, finishing in the Premier League’s top four as frequently as possible.
As Newcastle headed to Germany on Monday to face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, Ashworth confirmed their ambition to make such trips regular occurrences.
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“The vision is to get into the top six on a regular basis and compete for trophies,” he said. “We’re on the right pathway but success has never been a straight line, especially in the Premier League. Of course we want to be in the Champions League as much as we can over the coming years but it’s incredibly difficult.”
Despite the vast wealth of Newcastle’s majority Saudi Arabian owners, their comparatively modest commercial revenue streams dictate room for transfer market manoeuvres remains restricted by financial fair play regulations.
“We’re on an upward trajectory but there are definitely some bumps in the road,” Ashworth said. “What’s really difficult is to be able to compete commercially as well. Some of those [current top six] clubs have been global brands for decades; that’s one of our biggest challenges.
Dan Ashworth during his previous role as Brighton’s technical director, which he left to join Newcastle in 2022 after the Saudi Arabian takeover of the club. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA
“We’ve got to get ourselves into a situation where, not only are we a top-six club on the pitch but a top‑six club off it. We’ve really got to try to drive the revenues and interest in the club, which will give us more ammunition to be able to compete on the pitch.”
So far Eddie Howe’s coaching has enabled Newcastle to overachieve, but the nagging fear at St James’ Park is that, despite noises to the contrary, their manager may be tempted by an offer from England should Gareth Southgate step down after the European Championship next summer.
“I’m sure if Gareth wins the Euros the job won’t be available,” said Ashworth, a former FA technical director. “All I can say is Eddie has got a brilliant relationship across the club with staff, board and supporters – he’s doing a wonderful job in a really good place. Long may it continue.”
Ashworth, who left his post as technical director at Brighton to join Newcastle in February 2022, has been the subject of speculation suggesting he could be poached by Manchester United but appeared resistant to that idea. “I’m really happy here,” he said. “Newcastle is a brilliant city, club and project. I’m the same as Eddie, I think. I’m thoroughly engaged in throwing myself into all three of those things and really enjoying the challenge.”
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Howe’s immediate ambitions could be hampered by the back injury sustained by Dan Burn during the 1-0 win against Arsenal on Saturday. The defender will be out for a minimum of two months, something Howe described as “a huge blow” on Monday night.
“Dan’s gigantic for us with his versatility and his will to win,” he said.
After losing 1-0 at home against Dortmund last month, Newcastle are third in Group F but victory on Tuesday night would put them back in strong contention for progression to the knockout stages.