Newcastle Jets owner Nathan Tinkler has sensationally sacked five senior players and three coaching staff in one of the most extraordinary acts of bloodletting seen in Australian sport.
The former mining magnate terminated the contracts of club legend Joel Griffiths, captain Kew Jaliens, best player David Carney, experienced midfielder Billy Celeski and veteran defender Adrian Madaschi on Wednesday evening.
The sackings come after the weekend’s 7-0 loss to Adelaide and Wednesday afternoon’s forced departures of Jets’ assistant coach, goalkeeping coach and fitness trainer following Tinkler’s crisis meeting with head coach Phil Stubbins.
Newcastle sit second-bottom on the A-League ladder, three points ahead of Western Sydney Wanderers who have played three less games than the Jets due to Asian Champions League commitments.
Despite their shocking form and fan opinion, Tinkler has opted to support head coach Stubbins while claiming the sackings are an attempt at a “culture change” for the club.
It seems the final straw for Tinkler was when players abandoned training on Wednesday morning due to ongoing unrest within the group.
Tinkler has also been told by Football Federation Australia that he has until Saturday to meet certain “financial obligations” owing to the FFA or risk having the club taken over by the league.
All players and staff are being paid on time, however it has been reported the club is six months behind on superannuation payments while owing $140,000 to Northern NSW Football.
Meanwhile, the union representing the players says they are assessing their legal options.
The Professional Footballers Association CEO Adam Vivian said there has been very little communication from club management.
“If they’re unilateral terminations then we will crack down quite swiftly on that, because obviously they’ve got employment agreements and contracts,” he said.
“We want to see those contracts honoured.
“David Carney – he was dismissed for disciplinary reasons – we really need to get a really good understanding of the legal grounds for his disciplinary action and then the subsequent legal grounds for his dismissal.
“David has a right to challenge that.
“With regard to there being 13 players left on the roster, that’s something we’re going to investigate today obviously.
“They now fall below the prescribed roster limits under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“So we’ll work with the Federation to ensure that they’re going to be compliant with the CBA moving forward.”
– with ABC