The long-running saga regarding Chris Ashton’s club future has been resolved, following Saracens announcement this morning that the Northampton Saints winger will join them from the start of the 2012/2013 season.
A spokesman for the Aviva Premiership champions said: “We are obviously especially delighted but, for now, Chris remains a Northampton player. Out of respect for Saints, Saracens will not make any further comment on the matter.”
Ashton according to The Daily Telegraph is set to earn around £250,000 a year with the current Premiership champions, a significant increase from his salary at Northampton, with the announcement coming less than 24 hours after reports came out suggesting that Ashton had stormed out of a training session after an argument with Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder. He has consequently been dropped for this weekend’s sell out Heineken Cup match at the stadium: MK between Saints and Munster.
The same report suggested that Ashton’s playing time was over with his current club; “It now looks likely that Ashton has played his last match for Northampton”, but the player tweeted following the news release of his move to Saracens; “I’ve decided to join Saracens from next season… until then it’s all about Saints.” Although he will miss this weekend’s match, the impression is that contrary to the report we are not about to witness a Rugby Union version of the Carlos Tévez affair where a top earning player is unused and unwanted until he moves on.
Ashton’s move was the second announcement regarding departures from Northampton within 24 hours, after the club confirmed number eight Roger Wilson was moving back to Ulster next season. Both moves will free up a significant portion of Northampton’s annual salary, with Luke Narraway a rumoured arrival from Gloucester.
by Ben Coles