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As well as formalising transfer plans, Dan Ashworth, the sporting director, is in the process of reporting his findings to Newcastle’s board, at their request, following his six-month club audit.

When he arrived in late May, Ashworth’s initial focus was on the summer window but from September onwards he has shifted his attention to assessing all nine departments he oversees — including “football operations”, which includes player liaison and the club secretary, an area he has not headed in previous roles.

Over the coming months, proposed improvements will be introduced, with additional specialist staff being sought across multiple departments, including within the academy, given that developing players is of paramount importance to Ashworth. Among the personnel being brought in is Paul Midgley, with Manchester City’s northern youth scout joining as head of youth recruitment.

That standalone position has not existed at Newcastle since July 2017, when Steve Nickson was promoted to “head of recruitment” following Graham Carr’s departure as chief scout. Nickson oversaw recruitment at all levels and, while he will remain involved across the age groups, his primary focus is expected to revert to the first team, with Midgley specialising in youth talent-spotting.

Off the field, Eales and Peter Silverstone, who joined as chief commercial officer in October, have been in discussions over multiple sponsorship deals. The most important, however, is a front-of-shirt sponsor to succeed Fun88 for next season.

Saudia, Saudi’s national airline, were announced as Newcastle’s “Official Tour Airline Partner” for the Riyadh trip, prompting speculation that the company will adorn the jerseys, having ties with Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), who own an 80 per cent stake in the club.

Yet there have been discussions with companies in the UK and further afield — Staveley has visited other parts of the Middle East, and Eales has also been away from Tyneside — with the hierarchy confident that Newcastle’s lofty league position secures a stronger negotiating position and, they hope, a higher-value agreement.


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‘Newcastle may be going through a five-and-a-half-week period without a competitive fixture, but the club has not been on pause. There has been meticulous planning at all levels, with the aim of affording Newcastle’s first team the best chance of resuming in the rich form in which they signed off.’



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