The SportingJournal

STATEMENT: Newcastle Jets no more…

This morning, the Hunter Sports Group made a statement, announcing that they would return their A-League License of the Newcastle Jets FC to Football Federation of Australia. The statement as is follows…

The Hunter Sports Group (HSG) will not be fielding a Newcastle Jets team in the 2012/13 A-League season, effective immediately, following a decision by the HSG to return the Jets A-League licence to the Football Federation Australia (FFA).

The HSG has invested almost $12 million since stepping in at short notice to save the ailing club less than 18 months ago.

During this period the club has been unable to resolve a variety of issues with the FFA including a $5 million acquisition fee, the Jason Culina insurance matter and continued request 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. Projections of similar losses are forecast for next year.

The Hunter community has been engaged with family friendly membership packages, increased crowds, major investment in junior development, youth team participating in the local competition, W-League and strong community engagement programmes. The decision to return the club license was made more difficult because of a community model highly regarded by many as a leader in the A-League that features industry best practices.

CEO Troy Palmer said this was a difficult decision but one forced upon the HSG through an irrevocablebreakdown in confidence of the current FFA management and its refusal to provide clear and transparent answers about the Jets acquisition fee and a variety of other issues.

“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 entirefootball 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 programme 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.”

A critical factor for the Hunter Sports Group has been the impasse and an inability to have clear communication to discuss the Club’s controversial acquisition fee.

“We have attempted to organise meetings with the FFA to discuss our $5 million acquisition fee, with our only condition being we must be advised what other clubs have paid, if anything, why acquisition fees vary, how much of a success fee was paid to the FFA’s agent and how the money was used,” Palmer said.

“Having rejected our terms on every occasion we had no confidence a consistent and rational explanation for the fee would be forthcoming, particularly after inflammatory media comments from the FFA.”

The decision made by HSG was taken after much consideration to the impact on the game, general consultation and formal discussion with key stakeholders.

To ensure continued support of football in the Hunter region, the HSG will invest in a high performance academy to develop young players and provide a pathway to showcase their abilities and maximise their talent and potential.

Under the revised strategy of the HSG, $1 million will be invested 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.”

The decision takes effect immediately however the Hunter Sports Group youth team will continue to play in the local NBN competition and be provided quality coaching and training.

This decision has no impact on the Newcastle Knights and other Hunter Sports Group activities.

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