The owners of A-League club
Newcastle Jets announced they would be relinquishing the
franchise effective immediately in another blow to Australia's
professional soccer league on Tuesday.
Hunter Sports Group (HSG), owned by mining magnate Nathan
Tinkler, said it had suffered an "irrevocable breakdown in
confidence" in the current management of Football Federation
Australia (FFA) and would be returning their licence.
The FFA, still reeling from the acrimonious demise of
another club owned by a mining magnate, Clive Palmer's Gold
Coast United, hit back immediately by saying HSG could not just
walk away from its commitments.
"FFA does not accept that the Newcastle Jets have the right
to return their A-League licence," the FFA said a statement.
"FFA expects that the Jets will continue to honour the Club
Participation Agreement with FFA, which is for a term expiring
on 30 June 2020.
"FFA also expects that the Jets will continue to honour the
playing contracts in place with each of their players."
HSG said it had invested almost A$12 million ($12.38
million) in the ailing club since rescuing it 18 months ago and
had no confidence in the FFA management to resolve a number of
"As a keen Jets and football fan this has been a tough
decision and I am aware the impact this will have on members,
players, coaches, fans and the entire football community," HSG
Chief Executive Troy Palmer said in a statement.
"It is also frustrating to have invested so much time,
energy and money to save the Jets for the community at short
notice and then continually hit road blocks at the FFA."
Gold Coast United owner Palmer set up a rival body to end
what he described as the FFA's "dictatorship" of the game last
month after his licence was withdrawn when he was accused of
bringing the game into disrepute.
The FFA earlier this month announced plans to replace the
Gold Coast franchise in the 10-team league with a club based in
Sydney's western suburbs.
FFA Chief Executive Ben Buckley was dismayed by HSG's
decision and said his organisation had sought legal advice and
denied the governing body had been uncommunicative with owners.
"Today's announcement makes no sense for all those people
and for the other clubs in the A-League. They can rightfully
feel let down," he said.
"The FFA chairman Frank Lowy and I have made numerous offers
to meet in person with Nathan Tinkler," he added. "Just two
weeks ago a scheduled meeting was cancelled by HSG at short
"However, none of this provides a justification for today's
announcement by HSG or provides any grounds for the Newcastle
Jets to relinquish their licence."
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