Newcastle United will receive Premier League approval for Dan Ashworth’s appointment imminently.
Confirmation of the 51-year-old’s arrival, to the newly created position of sporting director at St James’ Park, is a formality, with the delay an unintended consequence of the Premier League’s new rules against related or associated party transactions.
The club confirmed on Monday that an agreement to release Ashworth from his Brighton & Hove Albion notice period with “immediate effect” had been reached, but also announced that they were waiting for completion of the “relevant approval process” at Premier League level.
It is understood that this relates to sections E.55 to E.58 of the Premier League regulations, which cover the increased and automatic inspection of all “Threshold Transactions”. These are defined as “any transaction between a club and any third party that is not as associated party of the club”, and which exceed either a £1 million annual value, or five per cent of a club’s yearly turnover.
These regulations were introduced during the 2021-22 campaign to scrutinise the value of commercial deals, and were partly in response to Newcastle’s Saudi Arabian-financed takeover, amid suggestions that the club could strike significant sponsorship deals with Middle Eastern firms.
Although the Ashworth compensation package exceeds £1 million, and is therefore subject to automatic assessment, it will be approved by the Premier League’s board because Newcastle and Brighton are not associated parties. The deal should be ratified by next week at the latest, as a decision is taken “within five clear working days”, unless in “exceptional circumstances”, which does not apply here.
Furthermore, The Athletic understands that Ashworth was also subject to routine Premier League employment contract checks to ascertain who is paying his wages.
This relates to Section P.14 of the Premier League regulations, which concerns the remuneration of senior officials, “including all benefits to which they are entitled, whether in cash or in kind”. For any remuneration above a certain threshold, which Ashworth’s deal meets, the Premier League automatically inspects the origin of the money.
The Premier League checks that all payments are recorded and are applied towards the clubs costs, and therefore their profit and sustainability calculations, which is the English top flight’s official name for its Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
The multi-million-pound compensation that Newcastle will pay Brighton for Ashworth, combined with his salary and bonuses, is being assessed to verify that its entire value is included as a cost of the club, rather than via a third party, because it meets the automatic threshold. Newcastle expect approval soon.
Roberto Mancini, during his time as Manchester City manager, was allegedly paid a chunk of his total salary via a consultancy contract with Al Jazira, Sheikh Mansour’s club in Abu Dhabi. German outlet Der Spiegel claimed that Mancini had one contract with City for his day job and another with Al Jazira for four days of consultancy work per year. Mancini has never commented on this, but the arrangement was within the rules at the time.
Subsequently, the Premier League altered its rules, with its member clubs now obliged to declare the origin of all remuneration of players or staff above a certain value.
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