Sir Jim Ratcliffe makes 'unpopular' admission as Newcastle hold firm with Manchester United

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has admitted that he is having to do 'some things that are unpopular' as Manchester United look to cut costs amid the club's ongoing stalemate with Newcastle United over Dan Ashworth.

In an effort to shake up the club, Sir Jim has ended working from home and highlighted the 'high degree of untidiness' at Manchester United's training ground, including the 'disgraceful' IT department. Non-football staff were invited to take redundancy if they did not wish to work in the office while Sir Jim informed employees they would have to cover their own travel to the FA Cup final in a break from tradition

Corporate restructuring firm Interpath Advisory were also appointed several months ago to oversee a huge cost-cutting drive following years of lavish spending at the club. Perhaps, then, it is not a huge surprise that Manchester United have been reluctant to pay up for Ashworth after Newcastle placed the sporting director on gardening leave in February, but the Magpies continue to hold firm on their higher valuation.

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Sir Jim, aware of the compensation Newcastle paid to Brighton to land Ashworth, previously branded the black-and-whites' initial demands of up to £20m as 'silly'. The Manchester United part-owner said it was 'absurd' that Ashworth could be left sidelined until next year if the Red Devils did not cough up.

Sir Jim's comments, and the manner of Manchester United's pursuit, did not go down well on Tyneside after Ashworth was sounded out long before Newcastle were even formally contacted. However, you suspect that did not bother the billionaire.

"At Manchester United, I'm having to do some things which are unpopular," he told Bloomberg. "But I'm happy to do it in a political environment in a way.

"At the end of the day, doing difficult things and a degree of unpopularity in a funny sort of way might make you more popular because somebody is seeing that you're standing up and making some difficult decisions rather than just blowing with the wind a bit. I don't know. Time will tell."