FFA says Nathan Tinkler owes $2.5million of Jets fee

FOOTBALL Federation Australia said last night that Nathan Tinkler owed $2.5million of the contentious $3.5million acquisition fee for the Jets.

An FFA spokesman said Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group paid $500,000 of the acquisition fee when it took over the Jets’ A-League licence in September 2010 from Con Constantine but had paid nothing since.

Withheld grants accounted for another $500,000 of the fee.

On Tuesday, HSG cited the acquisition fee as one of the key reasons it handed back the licence as it believed it was charged excessively compared with other club owners.

HSG chief executive Troy Palmer last night disputed FFA’s version of events.

‘‘Someone is telling you rubbish, mate. We have paid $2.5million with the remainder to come from the retention of the club grant,’’ Palmer told the Herald.

FFA pays each club a $1.2million annual grant in quarterly instalments.

The FFA spokesman said those grants had been withheld and covered another $500,000 of the acquisition fee as well as liabilities Tinkler agreed to cover when he took over from Constantine and the $100,000-a-year instalments Tinkler owes for the $1million licence fee until 2020.

‘‘The withholding of the grant was because they had not paid the outstanding acquisition fees as per the payment schedule that was outlined in the contract,’’ FFA chief executive Ben Buckley told the ABC on Wednesday.

‘‘That was payable over a period of time in instalments. We weren’t receiving those payments so we withheld them from the quarterly grants which our clubs would have expected us to do.’’

FFA has refused to take the licence back and urged HSG to meet its commitment until 2020 or face legal action.

Meanwhile, Andrew Poole, the Lake Macquarie mining magnate who proposed to help fund an alternative patrons’ trust ownership model when Tinkler was seeking to take over the Knights, said yesterday that he would be prepared to discuss the Jets with FFA.

‘‘If someone asked nicely, I’d definitely sit down and listen to what they had to say,’’ Poole said, although he admitted he had never attended a Jets game.

‘‘But I have not been approached by anyone from FFA and I’m not saying that I will be contacting them either.’’

Buckley welcomed Poole’s interest but stressed HSG had a long-term contractual commitment to the club.

‘‘Having local business people interested in the future of the Jets is a sign of what this club means to the people of the Hunter Valley,’’ he said.

‘‘The Jets are part of the fabric of society, which is why there’s so much shock and anger about what’s happened.

‘‘We would always find time to meet with anyone who had these principles at heart and to listen to their story.’’

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