Dan Ashworth, the director of football for Newcastle, has not ruled out the possibility of taking legal action against Milan for the transfer of Sandro Tonali. This comes after Tonali received a 10-month suspension for violating betting regulations in Italy.
According to Ashworth, he has reflected on his involvement in the signing of Tonali, while Newcastle’s main Saudi Arabian owners are conducting an internal inquiry into the mishap.
“After the incident, you reflect on your actions,” stated Ashworth, the ex-technical director of the Football Association. Looking back, he would not have chosen to hire Tonali. “What could we have improved? What could I have done differently? What lessons can we take away from this? Could we have predicted it? Should we have known?” He acknowledged Tonali’s talent and significance as a signing, and expressed regret over his absence.
The outcome depends on whether Milan was aware of Tonali’s issues. According to his agent, the 23-year-old has a gambling addiction and is receiving treatment for it. Additionally, the Italian authorities have been investigating illegal betting, which intensified during the summer.
Ashworth stated that he is unable to comment on the actions of other clubs and their knowledge. He also refused to confirm or deny if Newcastle is taking legal action against Milan, but did mention that he does not hold Tonali’s agent responsible. He explained that all they can do is focus on their own internal investigation and process, and he is unsure of the answer to the question.
“I am examining our procedures. In my 16 years of experience, I have never encountered a situation like this before. We prioritize thoroughness and selecting the right individuals. We devote a significant amount of time to evaluating both the character and athletic abilities of potential candidates. However, it can be challenging to navigate the limitations of the GDPR and determining what information can and cannot be obtained about individuals.”
“Initially, I focus on myself. We have not yet developed a solution. When I spoke with other sports and technical directors, it seemed like they were all asking: ‘How could we have foreseen this?’ It was a major jolt, a huge surprise. Handling the situation was a new experience for all of us. It was completely unexpected.”
Ashworth stated that there have been no discussions with Milan since their 0-0 draw at San Siro in September during the Champions League. He also mentioned that Newcastle would be happy to have them visit St James’ Park in December, similar to how PSG and Dortmund have visited.
Tonali is understood to have accepted a significant pay cut on wages believed to be about £120,000 a week for the duration of his ban but will be allowed to train with Eddie Howe’s side. Ashworth, like Howe, has immense sympathy for the player and is adamant Newcastle will support him.
Sandro has returned to training, but it is important to remember that he is a person first. We have a program in place to support him. Sandro has been exceptional since the incident and has been fully cooperative. He is a great person.
Even though Newcastle is restricted by financial fair play regulations, Ashworth will try to improve Howe’s team during the January transfer window. He believes that the rules on loaning players from other clubs owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund may become stricter by then. “Currently, there are no limitations,” Ashworth stated. Rúben Neves, who currently plays for Al-Hilal, a club owned by PIF, is being considered as a potential option.
Ashworth stated that Tonali was open and cooperative with the English Football Association regarding his issues with gambling. The FA announced on Friday that they are looking into possible violations of their betting regulations since Tonali joined the team from Milan in July. However, it is unlikely that his current 10-month ban will be extended.
The midfielder has been personally supported by some members of Newcastle’s ownership group. Ashworth stated, “I am aware that Sandro has received messages of encouragement from members of the board.”