SOUVENIR PROGRAMME

Rival sporting director “liked by” Liverpool – but here’s why move is unlikely

The search is currently underway for Liverpool’s next sporting director, but while there could be a candidate at a Premier League rival, an appointment is unlikely.

With Jorg Schmadtke having departed the club at the end of January, a big decision awaits over the next long-term sporting director at Anfield.

Schmadtke had been considered a short-term fix, following the surprise exits of Michael Edwards and Julian Ward in quick succession, and his input proved invaluable.

But with a new era dawning as Jurgen Klopp and his staff also prepare to depart at the end of the season, finding the right candidate to oversee a major restructure is key.

According to journalist Ben Jacobs, speaking to GiveMeSport, Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth is among those “liked” by higher-ups at Liverpool.

Ashworth, who notably held roles at West Brom, the FA and Brighton before joining the Saudi takeover at Newcastle, is considered one of the best in his field within English football.

Jacobs claims that a move for the 52-year-old is “[not] beyond the realms of possibility,” as Liverpool seek the establish their next Edwards.

But in reality, a deal for Ashworth is highly unlikely, particularly due to a clause in his contract at St James’ Park.

The Mail‘s Matt Hughes reported in December, amid interest from Man United, that Ashworth would be required to serve a 12-month notice period if he were to leave Newcastle for another club.

Liverpool would need to agree a compensation fee to break that notice period early, which was the case when Newcastle coaxed him from Brighton in 2022.

While Ashworth reached an agreement with Newcastle in February of that year, he did not begin work until June, when a sum of around £5 million was paid to release him.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 22, 2015: Liverpool's co-owner and NESV Chairman Tom Werner, Director Michael Gordon and owner John W. Henry before the UEFA Europa League Group Stage Group B match against Rubin Kazan at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The former Norwich youth player was previously kept on gardening leave by Brighton, which would be standard practice for positions such as sporting director, to avoid any conflict of interest.

It stands to reason that Liverpool would need to pay significantly more than £5 million to simply appoint Ashworth now – which, despite their growing importance in the game, clubs largely appear reluctant to commit to for sporting directors.

Whether this situation would impact the club’s interest in West Ham technical director Tim Steidten or not is unclear, as the German holds a different role.

When it comes to Ashworth, however, a move for the man who concluded deals for the likes of Moises Caicedo and Kauro Mitoma at Brighton may be out of the question.