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Jan 20, 2009

Griffiths not for sale, say Jets

Strife-torn Newcastle Jets have declared star player Joel Griffiths is not for sale and will remain with the A-League club for their upcoming Asian Champions League campaign.

Griffiths was the subject of a reported $1 million offer from Chinese club Beijing Guoan - the Jets' first opponents in the ACL group stage.

But Jets chief executive officer John Tsatsimas said on Wednesday the club had rejected the offer for Griffiths out of hand, saying they wanted him to remain in Newcastle.

"He's a Newcastle Jets contracted player. We want him here. He's our talisman, he's our captain, he's our marquee player," Tsatsimas told AAP.

"Our chairman's indicated he's trying to form a team with Joel as its apex.

"He'll be here for the Asian Champions League."

Jets chairman Con Constantine admitted on Tuesday an offer had been made for Griffiths, and that he was wrestling with whether to sell him.

If the Jets agreed, it would allow Griffiths to join his brother Ryan who already plays for the Chinese club.

But Griffiths had only recently signed a big-money contract to stay with the Jets as their marquee player until 2012.

Despite their reputation for selling players, with star turns Nick Carle, Jade North and James Holland all sold overseas by the Jets, the club resisted the temptation to do the same with the 29-year-old striker who starred in their championship season.

While the Jets would not say so publicly, there were also concerns about the timing of Beijing Guoan's offer so close to their ACL clash on March 10.

Larger European clubs have an oft-used ploy of expressing interest in a player from a rival team just prior to playing them, with an eye partially on unsettling their opponents.

But Tsatsimas played a straight bat to any suggestion their opponents were playing mind games, though he admitted selling someone of Griffiths' calibre so close to the start of the ACL would be unsettling for the club.

"We do have concerns about these kinds of interest in our players ... we'd have to find a replacement for a player we sold before the Asian Champions League, and it doesn't give us very much time," he said.

The Jets have hardly had the ideal preparation for the ACL anyway, going from 2007-08 champions to wooden spooners this season and struggling for form and consistency.

Constantine has also been embroiled in controversy this week over an alleged run-in with Jets supporters at last weekend's home match against Perth.

Football Federation Australia is investigating those claims.

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