Newcastle United supremo Dan Ashworth details the skeleton c


Dan Ashworth held a briefing with local media in the directors boxes at St James Park

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 07: Newcastle Uniteds Sporting Director Dan Ashworth poses for photographs at St. James Park on June 07, 2022 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

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Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth has revealed the new owners inherited a club that was being run in survival mode and that simply staying in the Premier League is no longer enough.

That was very much the aim under previous owner Mike Ashley who was happy to simply stay up and bank TV money. But after meeting the local media, Ashworth has spoken candidly about the direction he wants the club to go in.

In the first part of a series of interviews, Ashworth says the club are working long-term to:

End the long trophy drought that dates back domestically to 1955 and 1969 in Europe

Ensure the training ground is fit for purpose both now and in the future as they look to incorporate seniors, juniors and womens teams

Why even after a strong summer window which included a record breaking deal for Alexander Isak he was still not satisfied

How the passion of the supporters have left him blown away

Why it was vital to get Eddie Howe tied down to a new deal

But speaking about his opening few weeks as Toon supremo, Ashworth admits that the lack of ambition of the previous owners struck him the most.

Ashworth told the local media: What I found when I first came here was some incredibly loyal, passionate and long-serving staff. And the passion that the supporters have and the staff that have been here a long time is absolutely incredible.

I think that everybody would admit that there are certain areas of the club that have been run on more of a skeleton framework and a survival basis, like If we can stay in the Premier League thats fine or enough.

Thats not enough anymore. So, consequently, you have to upscale the majority of departments and facilities in order to try to achieve our goals, which are to finish higher up the league, to compete for trophies and aspirational targets.

[That is] The trajectory the club is going towards over the next few years. So, consequently, there is a building out of structures and capacity in order to be able to achieve that.

Newcastle have already started work on upgrading the training ground at Benton but in the long-term aim to move to a facility elsewhere, with Gosforth Park sounded out as the clubs next home.

And there are ongoing discussions on what can be improved at the stadium. Uniteds new CEO Darren Eales is also constantly in meetings to improve the supporter experience.

Ashworth reflected: Some things are probably stocked and fit for purpose - other areas need improvement in need of head count. Some, its a facilities issue. So the training ground is going through a period of improving our capacity.

Thats not only to fit more people in there, its to improve it for players on recovery, on diet and nutrition, a lot of money has gone into new training pitches for example.

Theres some short-term fixes you can have. But theres also some longer-terms purpose built training that can incorporate an Academy, womens and first-team that may or may not be coming down the track. Thats more the long-term, those are processes that are harder to fix.

Ashworths arrival from Brighton & Hove Albion was celebrated by fans - and described by many as like making a star signing. The former FA guru and Brighton sporting director is loving life at St James Park and said: First of all I have loved it. It is a fantastic place to work and a brilliant football club.

I knew how passionate the supporters were. But I have still been surprised, whether thats popping across the road to get a sandwich or the 50,000 in the stadium.

It really has taken me by surprise how much the club means to Newcastle United supporters. It has been brilliant. I have loved being here and loved the challenge.

In just a few short months Ashworth oversaw additions such as Isak - for a club record 63million - while Howe was handed a long-term deal.

Ashworth spoke about the challenge in-depth and reflected: Being pitched into a summer window without building relationships and understanding how the board works, how Eddie works, or how the recruitment works has been a challenge.

Obviously you are stuck within a tight timeframe because the transfer window shuts on September 1. So it was getting players out and off the books.

Getting some players on loan from a development pathway point of view. Adjusting contracts, ie Elliot Anderson, and the staff, Eddie Howe and some senior and youth recruits.

So we brought in five senior players and obviously Loris Karius came in post-deadline and we signed five players for the younger players.

I have been doing this job 15 years now and I dont think I have ever said the day after deadline: That was perfect and we got every position we wanted and everybody we wanted.

I always would like emerging talents in that category and younger players, and possibly one more to support the first-team. But, overall, [we are] really pleased with the players we signed and the business we [have] done.

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