Nathan Tinkler’s backflip over Jets
FOOTBALL Federation Australia officials appear to be on a collision course with Newcastle Jets owner Nathan Tinkler after expressing “serious concerns” about the club’s management and denying that they had endorsed his decision to remain at the helm.
Tinkler revealed on Friday that he had taken his A-League franchise off the market, five months after declaring they were for sale and he “can’t wait to get them out the door”.
In a remarkable backflip, the notoriously unpredictable tycoon told the World Game website that he had appointed himself club chairman, after the resignation of long-serving Ray Baartz, and would take a hands-on role in striving to re-establish the Jets as “a winning club”.
In the interview, Tinkler said: ‘‘I have always had the support of the FFA. They have never seen anybody put money into soccer the way I have and despite all the press to the contrary they do appreciate that I am a beyond-loyal supporter of sport in the Hunter Region and they are happy to have my direct involvement in the future.’’
But in a statement issued on Saturday, the governing body appeared far from convinced that Tinkler’s tenure should continue.
“FFA is just one of many stakeholders in Newcastle that needs to be satisfied that the Newcastle Jets are in fact on a new path under the continuing ownership of [Tinkler’s] Hunter Sports Group,” FFA chief executive David Gallop said.
“Our focus remains on the stability and sustainability of each A-League club.
“On that test, the Newcastle Jets’ current operation raises serious concerns.
“FFA will be sending senior executives to Newcastle [on Monday] to examine the club’s operating position.
“In this regard, FFA’s view has not changed in the past 24 hours and it’s premature to suggest that FFA has provided any endorsement.
“What we want to see is a strong Newcastle Jets club with a deep engagement with the Hunter community.
“That’s the core strength of football in the region.”
Unless he can convince FFA otherwise, Tinkler now faces the prospect of being forced to relinquish the Jets, just as he was ousted as Newcastle Knights owner by the NRL last June.
FFA officials Damian de Bohan and John Kelly will visit Jets headquarters on Monday to assess the club’s viability.
In particular, the governing body is understood to be eager to establish whether any of the club’s creditors have outstanding debts.
The Jets’ internet service was cut off on Thursday but a club spokesman said this was because they were “changing” IT providers.
Gallop said on Thursday that FFA “wants to see the ownership situation resolved as soon as possible”.
Scottish Premier League club Dundee United were in talks with the Jets about a possible takeover and there had been preliminary discussions with other parties.
It is understood Dundee remain interested but Tinkler withdrew from negotiations because they would not meet his $5 million asking price.
“There were interested parties out there previously. The process went on for about six months but as our performances on the field fizzled, so did the offers,” Tinkler was quoted as saying.
Tinkler’s comments about Baartz and Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby, who resigned simultaneously on Thursday, in his World Game interview are unlikely to have been well received in FFA’s corridors of power.
While Gallop said on Thursday Baartz and Middleby “are committed Newcastle football people and have given so much to the Jets”, Tinkler appeared to blame the two former Socceroos for the club’s lack of his success during his tenure.
“They are passionate football supporters who love the town, and their backing has been wonderful over the last four years,” Tinkler said.
“But, unfortunately for these guys a lot of the decisions they made over the years haven’t come off. You recruit the best people you think at the time and it may, or may not work.
“But they had to courage to live by their decisions and they have died by their decisions and full credit to them. They have my full respect but the club must move on.”