Eales Atlanta UnitedGetty

Newcastle Utd appoint ex-Atlanta United chief Eales as club's new CEO

Newcastle United have turned to Major League Soccer in their bid to challenge for the Premier League title next season. The Magpies have appointed Darren Eales as their new Chief Executive Officer, ending his eight-year association with Atlanta United in the United States.

Eales fronted Atlanta in their very first MLS season, immediately making the club one of the most competitive in the league and attracting a huge local following.

He will now try to weave the same magic at St. James' Park, where expectations will be very high indeed for the coming term.

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What did Newcastle say?

"Newcastle United is delighted to announce the appointment of Darren Eales as the club's new Chief Executive Officer (CEO)," the club affirmed in a statement published on its official website.

"Eales joins from US Major League Soccer (MLS) club Atlanta United, where he has been President and Chief Executive since the team was founded in 2014. Over that time, he has built a franchise that has secured the highest average attendance in MLS, created the most valuable squad, generated the largest profits - and won multiple trophies, including the MLS Cup in 2018, the US Open Cup in 2019 and the Campeones Cup in 2019."

"The 49-year-old will work alongside the Magpies' sporting director, Dan Ashworth, for the second time in his career after the two worked closely at West Bromwich Albion between 2006 and 2010."

How did Eales fare at Atlanta?

Born in Chelmsford, England, Eales attended college in the United States prior to obtaining his law degree from Cambridge University, and played football on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean before eventually making the transition to the boardroom when West Bromwich Albion hired him as a legal counsel.

He then served at Tottenham, and when Atlanta United launched as a franchise in 2014 was chosen to be the new club's president and CEO.

Eales pulled off a massive coup by hiring Gerardo Martino and, unlike many MLS sides, steered away from veteran signings in favour of stocking Atlanta with exciting young talent, particularly from South America.

That approach paid off when the side won the 2018 MLS Cup in only their second active season, while also making a handsome profit on the sale of star playmaker Miguel Almiron to Newcastle.

While subsequent campaigns have failed to live up to that heady start Atlanta remain one of the strongest, best-supported teams in the US, averaging just under 44,000 fans for their home games in 2021 - a figure that almost doubles their nearest rival, Seattle Sounders.

'A huge loss for Atlanta'

GOAL's U.S. correspondent Ryan Tolmich writes...

Eales' departure is a huge loss for Atlanta, who are now without the architect that built the club from the ground up.

On and off the field, Atlanta immediately asserted itself as MLS' model club, pushing the envelope with their lofty ambitions while ushing in a new era of team building.

Eales will, deservedly, get a lot of credit for that, and the club will now need to replace a man that has been the face of their front office. They'll certainly have no shortage of options, with owner Arthur Blank usually willing to pay whatever it takes to bring the best people to his club.

As for Newcastle, the club now has a figurehead that has proven he can take a lot of money and build a culture, which is exactly what he'll be tasked with going forward.

Whether Eales can build the new-look Newcastle into a juggernaut remains to be seen, but, once again, Eales is at a club that has the ambition and the money to build something special.

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