Jets fury at Sydney attempt to poach van Egmond

FURIOUS Jets chief executive Robbie Middleby slammed Sydney FC as ‘‘disrespectful’’ and ‘‘completely out of order’’ after their  failed  attempt to poach coach Gary van Egmond.

Van Egmond yesterday knocked back a lucrative three-year deal to take over the reins at Sydney FC effective immediately.

 It is understood that the deal was up to $100,000 per season higher than what van Egmond was earning at Newcastle.

‘‘To offer him a contract seven games into a season, ethically it is not the right thing to do,’’ Middleby said.

‘‘It’s disrespectful and completely out of order.

‘‘To approach another coach who is under contract at an A-League club, it is not right to do that.

‘‘That is not how I would want to run a club.’’

Middleby said the offer to van Egmond, who is contracted at the Jets until the end of next season, had been ‘‘in the pipeline’’ for a week and ‘‘came to a head’’ yesterday.

‘‘There was interest and Gary was up front with us,’’ Middleby said.

Van Egmond was not available for comment last night.

The 47-year-old has rebuilt the roster at the club he led to the 2007-08 championship since returning three rounds into last season following the shock  sacking of Branko Culina.

‘‘He sees what we are trying to create,’’ Middleby said.

‘‘The big thing is the Emerging Jets program. Getting those young kids coming through.

‘‘We just had Adam Taggart named in the Socceroos squad. We have Craig Goodwin coming through, Mark Birighitti, we have just re-signed James Virgili.

‘‘The future is bright for the club.’’

Van Egmond signed a one-year extension in the pre-season.

The Herald understands the offer from Sydney was a significant increase on van Egmond’s current salary but Middleby said it would not fast-track contract talks.

‘Van Egmond controversially walked out on a four-deal at the Jets in  2009 to take up a position at the Australia Institute of Sport.

Then owner Con Constantine threatened legal action over the split.

Van Egmond spent two years in Canberra before being lured back to Newcastle by the Hunter Sports Group.

Sydney have been without a head coach since van Egmond’s good friend Ian Crook resigned three weeks ago. Assistant Steve Corica has stepped up as caretaker.

Former championship winning coach Pierre Littbarski, one-time Chelsea manager Avram Grant, former Socceroos coach Frank Farina and A-League veteran Miron Bleiberg have been touted as possible replacements.

But  van Egmond was the man they wanted.

He was high on Sydney’s list at the end of last season after Vitezslav Lavicka announced he was quitting before the club eventually signed Crook.

The Jets were linked to Graham Arnold, who was under contract at the Mariners, before appointing van Egmond last season, but Middleby said he had not approached the former Socceroos boss.

Though angered by the Sydney offer, the Jets boss does not intend to file a formal complaint to Football Federation Australia.

‘‘I think the embarrassment of Gary saying no is enough,’’ he said

 ‘‘I have a decent relationship with [Sydney chief executive] Tony Pignata but it’s not the way I would do business.’’

Middleby, a member of Sydney’s championship winning side in the inaugural season, said it was import-

ant to the league that 

Sydney were successful.

‘They are crucial to the league doing well.  ‘‘They have Del Piero there and to get it right is an important thing for them but that is not the way to go about it.’’

The Jets are home to Sydney FC in round 12 on December 22.

‘‘There was always going to be plenty of feeling regardless,’’ Middleby said about the match.

One attraction for van Egmond to leave the Jets might have been the uncertainty over Nathan Tinkler’s finances but the club is confident that’s not an issue.

‘‘We know there’s been plenty of speculation about Nathan but I know he’s committed to this club and the future is bright here, don’t worry about that,’’ Middleby said. ‘‘The culture we want to develop here is in its early stages but it’s right on track.’’

 Sydney chief executive Tony Pignata released a brief statement last night confirming the club’s approach.

“As part of the natural recruitment process following Ian Crook’s resignation two weeks ago, Sydney FC has had initial discussion with a number of coaches both locally and internationally, including Gary van Egmond,’’ he said.

 “After showing initial interest, Gary has declared he wants to remain in Newcastle. Sydney FC is continuing with on-going discussions with a small number of preferred candidates and working towards making an appointment in the near future.”

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