One of the A-League’s foundation clubs, the Newcastle Jets, has become Australian football’s latest casualty.
Football Federation Australia announced it had revoked the Jets’ A-League licence on Wednesday, and would hand it to “a new entity owned and controlled by the FFA”.
On Wednesday night, Scottish club Dundee United – who had been linked with investment in Newcastle – confirmed its chairman Stephen Thompson was part of a consortium interested in the licence.
FFA said the new club would remain in Newcastle and that “current players of the Newcastle Jets will be offered contracts”.
The Jets become the latest A-League franchise to fall by the wayside, joining the New Zealand Knights, North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United.
Earlier on Wednesday, club owner Nathan Tinkler placed the Jets in voluntary administration.
Tinkler had said he was negotiating with Dundee United to sell the club.
But FFA acted swiftly, declaring the revocation came about as a result of “material breaches of the A-League licence held by Newcastle Jets Football Operations Pty Ltd, in relation to non-payment of players and staff, and an ongoing failure to meet standard operational requirements”.
“FFA has taken this action to protect the interests of the football community in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, and to safeguard the image and reputation of the A-League and its member clubs,” FFA boss David Gallop said.
“Newcastle needs a club operating in a stable environment with certainty of resources in order to be successful and competitive in the A-League and to properly represent the community. HSG (Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group) has proved to be incapable of meeting these requirements.
“HSG has behaved in a deplorable way towards the players and staff of the club in failing to meet basic obligations to pay wages. Anyone who takes control of a sporting club has an obligation to respect the people and the traditions of that club.
“HSG has failed miserably to in this regard. Today’s action to terminate the licence is the first step to restoring the proud traditions of football in Northern NSW.”
Tinkler wanted certain guarantees before paying staff.
“I have been in negotiations with the FFA over the last few days and wasn’t able to get them to guarantee the licence,” Tinkler told News Corp.
“And I haven’t been willing to pay wages unless they guaranteed that so I have put the club into administration just now.”
Gallop did not mention the Dundee United link, but said FFA would talk with “several parties”.
“First of all, we will listen to all the key stakeholders in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley,” he said.
“This region has incredibly strong community values and any future ownership needs to have people at the heart of things.
“That’s a core value for football in Australia and something we are very committed to in relation to the A-League club in Newcastle.”
Dundee United released a statement saying it was not involved in the talks, but did confirm Mr Thompson was part of a group showing interest.
“This is a personal venture for the Chairman as part of a consortium,” it read.
“Any involvement of Mr Thompson in this or any other venture is entirely his prerogative and the board, which he remains fully committed to, is focused purely on Dundee United FC delivering a positive end to the season and building for next season.”
The Jets’ off-field woes were compounded by a horror season on-field, winning just three games and with several players departing acrimoniously mid-season in a pay row with Tinkler.
– with AAP