Tarek Elrich left in limbo

TAREK Elrich, the lone survivor of the Jets’ A-League championship-winning starting XI, appears certain to be forced out of the club.

The right back or winger is one of eight Jets players coming off contract and has not yet been offered an extension.

In a tweet from his account @elrich11 this morning he wrote: "Thanks to all my great fans for everything. May Allah (god) bless you all. Thanks for all your support."

Several clubs such as Perth Glory and Sydney FC have expressed interest in the 25-year-old, but Elrich’s desire has always been to remain in Newcastle.

Frustrations are beginning to boil over in the Elrich camp.

Elrich’s manager, Tony Rallis, said yesterday that the club was stalling negotiations in the hope his client would sign with a rival club.

‘‘They know there will be an uproar with the fans,’’ Rallis said.

‘‘I just think they’re trying to force it so they can say that he left.’’

Jets officials did not respond to calls and text messages from the Newcastle Herald yesterday.

Elrich is probably the most popular player among supporters and has been the face of the club since Joel Griffiths moved to China three years ago.

Since joining the club as a young striker on a scholarship in season one he has gone on to make 134 appearances and become the most capped Jets player in A-League history.

His efforts off the pitch have endeared him to Novocastrians.

For years Elrich has been the most affable Jets player with fans and has dedicated his time to community work.

Rallis said the Jets had offered Elrich a new deal two months ago, but withdrew the deal as they wanted to concentrate on the run into the semi-finals.

Due to Elrich’s reluctance to leave Newcastle, Rallis said he was happy to postpone the talks until the end of the season.

‘‘He sees himself as a Newcastle boy,’’ Rallis said.

‘‘I got him there seven years ago under a scholarship. Of course his intention was to never go anywhere.

‘‘Normally I wouldn’t handle a situation like this, I would say see you later.

‘‘It’s an unique situation, because the young man sees himself as a Newcastle product.

‘‘That’s why I’ve been patient. I’ve been patient for him.’’

Rallis said Elrich had taken a 20per cent pay cut three years ago to re-sign with the Jets and that he was prepared to sign for less money again to remain in Newcastle.

Elrich, clearly upset, said yesterday he did not want to talk publicly about the matter.

Last week, he was clear about his desire to remain at the Jets when he spoke to the Herald.

‘‘I have never really seen myself playing anywhere else,’’ Elrich said.

‘‘To see myself in other colours would be pretty tough but football is my profession. If I have to leave to further my career I will.’’

Elrich is a Parramatta Eagles and Sydney Olympic junior and his family come from Auburn, in western Sydney.

He could become a major target of the new western Sydney franchise.

Elrich’s expected departure follows the loss last week of English striker Francis Jeffers.

Jeffers asserted that he was verbally offered a new deal three weeks ago, before the club changed its mind last week.

Jets chief executive officer Robbie Middleby denied Jeffers was ever offered a new contract.

In-form striker Jeremy Brockie is likely to leave the club after having rejected his initial offer.

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