Northern NSW downplays talk of Jets takeover

CHIEF executive David Eland has dismissed talk that Northern NSW Football is ready to take over Newcastle’s A-League licence, saying the speculation is grossly premature and the concept unsustainable.

Eland said yesterday that as the peak body for soccer in the region, NNSWF would have to consider any call from Football Federation Australia to fill the gap Hunter Sports Group left last week when it tried to hand back its A-League and W-League licences.

But with HSG and FFA locked in a contractual dispute, Eland said it was looking too far down the track to involve NNSWF in ways to keep an A-League team in Newcastle.

‘‘Any speculation about Northern NSW Football taking over an A-League licence is so premature it’s just not funny,’’ he said.

‘‘If the call came out to Northern NSW Football to give Newcastle a presence in the national competition, of course we would consider it, but the reality is that that is only a short-term solution.

‘‘Northern NSW Football running an A-League team is not a sustainable solution.’’

Eland said a TV report jumped the gun in announcing NNSWF had agreed to back the W-League side for the next three years.

NNSWF backed Newcastle’s side for the first three years of the women’s national league, but HSG took over last season.

NNSWF is expected to pick up where HSG left off but Eland said no decision had been made.

He was awaiting word from FFA about the status of a club participation grant before committing to taking over the team.

Eland believed the grant was available to clubs and member associations that managed W-League sides but the NNSWF board wanted confirmation before committing.

‘‘We are still dealing with the FFA,’’ he said.

‘‘My understanding is the W-League is still tied up with the club participation grant, so my board has asked a number of questions of the FFA.

‘‘We are seriously considering it, but until the FFA comes back to us with the answers to the questions this issue remains unresolved.’’

Eland said the other matter was the effect of the HSG-FFA contractual row on the grant.

‘‘The whole issue of us taking it over is tied up with HSG committing to a club participation agreement and we will just wait for FFA to provide us with more details,’’ he said.

‘‘We funded and run the team for the first three years and we don’t want to see Newcastle’s participation in the W-League end.’’

Eland confirmed that NNSWF hoped to commit to a three-year term if it managed the W-League side.

‘‘In the past we’ve done it on a year-to-year basis and I don’t think that’s the best way to go about it,’’ he said.

‘‘My position to the board was, let’s not go year by year, let’s give the W-League team some security, which will also help us commercially as well when we take it to sponsors.’’

An FFA spokesman said yesterday that HSG had not formally notified the governing body of its intention not to support the W-League side and nothing could change until the matter with HSG was resolved.

But he said any group that took over the side could expect to receive the club participation grant.

Funding for the W-League would be greater next year, because of the federal government’s recent $8million boost to football development.

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