A-LEAGUE boss Lyall Gorman last night assured Newcastle football fans that the Jets would survive and was confident that the club’s ownership issues would be settled in the next 72 hours.
Appearing on SBS football magazine show The World Game last night, Gorman said the Jets would ‘‘absolutely’’ survive.
‘‘Clearly there will be a team in Newcastle next season,’’ the head of the A-League said.
‘‘There is 60,000 registered players in Northern NSW Football and 10,000 Jets members.
‘‘We have a lot of options we are working on at the moment.
‘‘We are very confident one of those will rise to the top in the next 72 hours.
‘‘If I was sitting in Newcastle as a fan, a member, a sponsor, a member of the community, I want to give them a reassurance that we are moving every possible stone to make sure there is a Newcastle Jets next year.’’
Gorman did not indicate if Hunter Sports Group were one of the options.
It has been three weeks since HSG, which is owned by coal baron Nathan Tinkler, announced it intended to relinquish the Jets A-League licence, citing irreconcilable differences with the governing body.
Yesterday, April 30 – the date A-League contracts expired and new ones started – had been identified as crucial in the chances of a compromise between HSG and FFA.
Despite HSG reaffirming its stance a week ago, work behind the scenes has been ongoing in an attempt to get the warring parties back to the negotiating table.
The governing body has also held talks with Lake Macquarie millionaire businessman Andrew Poole about his involvement in an alternative community-based ownership model.
The chances of HSG rescinding its decision are likely to hinge on the outcome of the first Joint A-League Strategic Committee in Sydney today.
One of HSG’s main concerns has been that clubs did not have more input in the running of the league.
It is understood that club representatives Peter Sidwell (heart), Tony Sage (Perth), Greg Griffin (Adelaide) will be armed with seven demands which will improve the league’s commercial viability.
Last night’s developments will undoubtedly be welcomed by the Jets playing, coaching and support staff, who have been in limbo.
Jets striker Ryan Griffiths vented his frustration yesterday and accused HSG and FFA of leaving the players in the dark over the plight of the embattled club.
Griffiths signed a new two-year contract in February which kicks into gear today.
On announcing the decision to cease operation of the Jets, HSG indicated they would honour all new and existing contracts. The Jets have 15 players on their books for next season including recruits James Brown, Mark Birighitti and Adam Taggart.
They have also been paying youth team players an allowance to compete in the Northern NSW State League.
Despite HSG’s initial assurance, Griffiths said the players had not been officially notified of their contract situation. The first payment is due on May 15.
‘‘As yet they haven’t formally confirmed that,’’ Griffiths told the Herald yesterday. ‘‘I don’t know what is happening with regards to where my next pay cheque is coming from and if it is.’’
It is a similar situation for coaching and support staff, many of whom returned to work yesterday after an unscheduled two-week holiday.
When asked yesterday to clarify the contract and on-going wage situation, a HSG spokesperson replied via email: ‘‘It is currently not appropriate to comment publicly on the questions raised but please forward the names of any players or coaching staff that have raised this concern with you and we will address it directly with them.’’
Player agent, John Grimaud said it was close to crunch time for his clients Brown and Birighitti, who are yet to arrive in Newcastle.
‘‘Clubs are already showing interest and crunch time is not far away,’’ Grimaud said last night.