Chris Ashton’s move to Saracens confirmed

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

19 thoughts on “Chris Ashton’s move to Saracens confirmed

  1. It’s good to contrast this with Roger Wilson’s move to Ulster, which was dignified and respectful – while rumours were circulating, neither club commented once until confirmation and the player leaves with the best wishes and respect of the Saints fans. As one myself, this sorry fiasco leaves a really bad taste, as it feels like Ashton couldn’t care less about us and the club which made his career and stopped him ending up back in the North playing league. His tweet comes rather too late, and he hasn’t exactly been on sparkling form this season. Also, he’s not much without Ben Foden.

    I hope he enjoys chasing box kicks at Vicarage road in front of the one man and his dog they get in every week. Can’t see how Sarries management have justified spending such a colossal sum on a winger… If he were a fly-half then maybe but this doesn’t make sense when they’ve got cracking wingers already.

    1. Matt I think that’s harsh. Ashton has said absolutely nothing, it has all been to do with press coverage. Mallinder has commented but that is only to respond to press coverage and use the press to put pressure on his man. We haven’t even heard Ashton’s side of the story, only Mallinder saying that he won’t talk to them. Wilson could make his move more smoothly because, with all due respect, he doesn’t sell newspapers.

      I think it’s a strange move from Ashton from a purely rugby perspective but I don’t think he’s done too much wrong here. Maybe I’ve missed something.

      1. Hugely agree with this, all the speculation has come from comments made by Jim Millinder to the press; which is outrageous and I suspect did him no favours in encouraging Ashton to stay.

  2. It’s a real shame for Saints but if I was a fan I’d have no qualms about letting CAshton go now. No one is bigger than the club, regardless of try record.

    Completely agree with Matt that Ashton’s game is greatly enhanced by the presence of Foden. He claims that it is not for the money but for a change of scenery. Not sure what kind of rugby he is expecting to play at Saracens (although it is a little one-eyed to think of them as a two dimensional, non-attacking side).

    Northampton will just welcome another new winger into the fray, either from their academy or from elsewhere. They’ll miss him to start with, of course, but Mallinder won’t lose any sleep.

  3. A financial not a sporting reason for the move one i think Ashton will regret.
    I am pleased Mallinder did not agree to any excessive wage demands wingers are easily replaceable top front row fowards or goal kickers are not spend the money there.
    Thanks for all you have done and good luck but i think you have made a mistake.

  4. It is being rumoured that this is purely financial for Chris Ashton. But I think he is also hoping to link up with former Wigan team mate, and best friend Joel Tomkins. And don’t forget that Andy Farrell was still at Wigan when Ashton started his League career there.

    And personally I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have chasing up kicks. He is obviously quite happy to be doing that.

  5. I think whenever there’s rumours of big salaries, everyone just assumes that it’s financially motivated and he’s ‘selling out’ but that’s not always the case. Jonny gets paid a fortune in France, but the lifestyle and change of scene were probably his main drivers.

    As for talk of his discipline problems, I think they are overstated, and a club like Sarries should knock any arrogance out of him…

    I think it’s a good move for both clubs.

    1. I think you’re spot on Hutch. I think Farrell knows him well enough, and put him back on the straight and narrow. I think maybe the recent discipline problems have been down to the fact that he wanted a change, and was becoming unhappy at Saints? Although he’s always seemed a little arrogant, his discipline has not been a major issue until the first Tuilagi incident.

    2. I can understand Jonny wanting a change of scenery from Newcastle to the South of France, but Watfords a slightly different case…

      1. You’re right. The scenery won’t be much different down here than in Northampton. I think it’s more to do with the personnel.

  6. Narraway is an interesting one. I thought he would be at Glos for the remainder of his career. One thing that would worry me signing Narraway is his tendency to get injured, alot!

  7. He’s leaving a job he’s not happy in for a different job that pays more. Good for him. I wish I could do that. I’m not sure he’ll thrive as well without Foden and I don’t personally like him that much but good luck to him. All this talk of club loyalty seems a bit odd to me. It’s a job after all. His playing career will probably finish about age 35 at best why not earn as much as possible while he can.

  8. If ashton is on 250k then how can they keep within the salary cap with all their so called “galacticos” you can bet your life the south african will be on similar wages. The premiership should investigate this move

    1. Can you name thses so called “galacticos”. I can only think of three or four. Which you could probably say the same for a lot of clubs.

    2. The salary is controlled by sarries via extra benefits, such as cars houses etc. There is no salary cap on that so they can pay the players off using that rather then eating into their money reserves, that’s how they keep wihtin it.

  9. I think ashton is one of the most passionate players england currently has, you can see on his face when he scores the infamous length of the pitch try against the aussies, just how much he loves the game and wearing the white shirt. I would find it difficult to stay on form and have my head in the right place having my future up in the air following the woeful world cup campaign. Ashtons best friend Tomkins is now at Sarries as well, so it was probably more than just a change of scenery for him.
    I can see how saints fans can feel hurt but he never made a comment while his future wasn’t certain.
    As for Ashton being a poorer player without Foden, yes, Foden does help him by making breaks but it is his predator instinct and how well he naturally runs support lines that make him such a deadly finisher.
    Wasn’t Quins v Sarries at Twicks a sell out crowd?

    1. “you can see on his face when he scores the infamous length of the pitch try against the aussies, just how much he loves the game and wearing the white shirt.”

      he was wearing a dark grey shirt at the time, but I take your point.

  10. …and what’s the relevance of the Quins vs Sarries crowd? It was a Quins home game and they’ve been getting 75 000 + at it for a few years now. I think the fact that it was a sellout crowd is more to do with Quins run of form at the beginning of the season than Saracens.

  11. Weird how people’s perceptions of what a player is like as a bloke get so affected by his performances on the field. When Ashton was doing his swallow dives last year I was defending him saying he’s entitled to a bit of fun, it’s not disrespectful and people should get off his back. One bad World Cup later and I look at the picture above and think ‘don’t be such a dick’. Doubt I’m alone in that.

    Think it says more about sports fans than about the player himself to be honest. We’re a fickle bunch.

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