HSG agree to keep Jets in A-League
The A-League future of the Newcastle Jets has been assured after successful talks between Hunter Sports Group (HSG) chairman Nathan Tinkler and Football Federation Australia (FFA) boss Frank Lowy.
Tinkler stunned the FFA last month when he announced his intention to hand back the Jets' A-League licence because of "irreconcilable" differences with the FFA.
But a weekend meeting between billionaires Tinkler and Lowy has changed that.
The FFA said on Tuesday that HSG had reaffirmed their support for the Jets after discussions between Lowy and Tinkler resolved "various issues".
"It was a good opportunity for Nathan and I to meet face-to-face and resolve the issues that had affected the relationship between FFA and HSG," Lowy said in a statement.
"FFA has made some concessions in good faith in order to resolve the matters."
The Jets' future looked grim when HSG confirmed it planned to hand back the licence on April 20 after compromise talks with FFA failed.
After HSG claimed it would "welcome and look forward to any forthcoming legal action", the FFA looked set to sue Tinkler's group for as much as $50 million in damages for breach of contract.
Back then, HSG said it had offered a peace deal to FFA which meant it could still keep the licence it was meant to hold until 2020.
Its terms included FFA reviewing a reported $4.5 million fee in the acquisition of the club's licence and settling the ongoing Jason Culina insurance matter immediately.
HSG claimed it would also invest $250,000 on behalf of all clubs and the FFA to create an independent taskforce to make recommendations on improving the sustainability and transparency of the A-League.
But HSG said the proposals were immediately rejected by Ben Buckley - a claim the FFA CEO denied.
But it seemed all was forgiven after the weekend talks.
"When Nathan first took on the Newcastle Jets, I welcomed his commitment to running a strong and successful A-League club in Newcastle on behalf of the community of the Hunter region," Lowy said in a statement.
"Today, my confidence is renewed over Nathan's personal drive to make the Jets and the A-League successful.
"We agreed on a way forward that addresses the issues HSG have raised and we are now going to get on with developing the game together in a key region for football.
"With more than 10,000 Jets members and an average crowd this season over 12,000, HSG has demonstrated its ability to engage with the community and to run a successful team and club."
Tinkler warmed to the renewed talks with Lowy when the FFA boss flew to Brisbane just to see him on the weekend.
"I took that as a sign of goodwill. It was a gesture I certainly appreciated," Tinkler said in a statement.
"I welcomed the opportunity to meet and discuss these issues in person.
"We now have a way forward and I remain committed to ensuring the Newcastle Jets is one of the most successful clubs (in the A-League).
"I am delighted to be able to support the Newcastle Jets on behalf of football fans in the Hunter region and to continue to build a strong relationship with the community.
"When I first made this commitment, I did it on behalf of the community and I am committed to further developing football and sport in a community I grew up in and am proud of."