Tinkler returns Jets' A-League licence
The Nathan-Tinkler owned Hunter Sports Group has returned its Newcastle Jets A-League licence to Football Federation Australia and will not field a team in the 2012-13 season.
In a fresh blow to the A-League after Gold Coast became the third club in the competition's short history to fold last week, HSG said it had been forced into the decision after being unable to resolve a variety of issues with FFA.
In a media release from the Hunter Sports Group, CEO Troy Palmer said it was a difficult decision but one forced by having lost confidence in FFA's administration.
"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," Palmer said.
"I am particularly saddened for members and supporters who have embraced our community model, which has been accepted in so many areas as a successful and unique way to engage the entire community and build the A-League brand.
"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.
"It should never be forgotten that when we stepped in to save the club it was insolvent, there were only 500 members, diminishing crowds, minimal community engagement, no merchandise program and negligible corporate support.
"During the 2011/12 season we believe we turned this around to be seen as leaders in all these areas.
"Unfortunately, having lost confidence in the FFA management and its ability to find a resolution, it is clear we have no other option.
"It is about removing ourselves from an administration in which we have an untenable relationship."
Tinker's group stepped in to save the club almost 18 months ago after it was on the verge of folding under former owner Con Constantine.
HSG said it had invested $12 million since taking control of the club but was fed up with FFA over a range of issues.
These included believing they had been overcharged when they forked out $5 million for a license acquisition fee, the on-going Jason Culina insurance matter and "continued requests to address the competition's unsustainable financial model."
"These frustrations have been highlighted with the FFA's own report identifying combined club losses in excess of $27 million for the 2012 financial year," HSG's statement read.
"Projections of similar losses are forecast for next year."
Football Federation Australia was not immediately available for comment.
The announcement throws FFA's plans of a 10-team competition for next season into doubt after it had announced it would bankroll a new western Sydney franchise.
The Jets' survival will likely hinge on FFA finding new owners.
HSG said its decision would not impact on the Newcastle Knights NRL club, which it also owns.
The company said it would also continue to support soccer in the Hunter region by investing invest in a high performance academy to develop young players.
It said would invest $1 million annually to encourage local children to play football and propagate the game in the region.
"This decision by the Hunter Sports Group is not about walking away from football and we will continue to meet and grow our local commitments," Palmer said.
"We will now invest in local junior talent and help reduce the burden on their families.
"We would rather proactively support youth and our local community at the expense of the huge wastage in the A-League."