Newcastle handed major blow in their pursuit of a new sporting director to replace Man United-bound Dan Ashworth – as Dougie Freedman signs a new deal with Crystal Palace

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Crystal Palace sporting director Dougie Freedman has doubled down on his commitment to the south London club by signing a new deal in the face of keen interest from Newcastle. 

Freedman was considered the frontrunner to take over the vacancy at Newcastle as Dan Ashworth prepares for a prospective move to Manchester United

Mail Sport reported at the start of the month that Freedman was one of three final candidates being discussed by the club, who are currently negotiating with their Premier League rivals United while Ashworth is on gardening leave. 

Newcastle are believed to have been informed of Freedman’s decision and must continue their hunt for a sporting director who can lead the club’s strategy during the upcoming transfer window

As recently last night, Eddie Howe‘s side are believed to have been confident they would secure Freedman – before he put pen to paper to stay with her current club. 

Dougie Freedman is set to stay at Crystal Palace despite strong interest from Newcastle 

Eddie Howe's side are keen to replace outgoing sporting director Dan Ashworth (pictured) who is currently on gardening leave

Eddie Howe’s side are keen to replace outgoing sporting director Dan Ashworth (pictured) who is currently on gardening leave

Freedman has been at Palace since 2017 and helped recruit crucial young players for the current squad including Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, and Adam Wharton. 

The former striker’s terms are thought to have been improved with his new deal amid Palace’s battle to keep hold of their employee. 

Ashworth informed Newcastle of his wish to join Manchester United as their new sporting director in February and was placed on gardening leave, a period that minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has suggested expires towards the end of 2025.

In a blunder revealed by Mail Sport on Tuesday, Newcastle’s sporting director sent an email in early February to Omar Berrada – the incoming Man United chief executive – in which he made it clear he wanted to accept the offer of the same role at Old Trafford.

However, Ashworth sent a blind copy to his Newcastle email address before apparently realising the error and deleting the evidence. At this stage, Man United had not approached Newcastle and Ashworth had not informed his employers of the clandestine talks with a rival.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe (right) is keen for Ashworth to begin work at Man United as soon as is possible

Sir Jim Ratcliffe (right) is keen for Ashworth to begin work at Man United as soon as is possible

The subsequent discovery of the email by the club is embarrassing for Ashworth and Berrada, who was still on gardening leave from Manchester City. It could lead to a Premier League probe if a complaint is made.

In a further twist, we understand Ashworth then claimed comments made by Howe had made his position untenable. However, this was in relation to comments made by the head coach on February 16, one week after the secret exchange with Berrada that Ashworth thought he had erased.

It has since been reported that Ashworth is set to take Newcastle to arbitration in an effort to force the move, and a report in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday says he will argue he was sacked by the club.

Source From: Premier League News, Fixtures and Results | Mail Online

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