Newcastle Jets will stay in A-League

HUNTER Sports Group and Football Federation Australia have a brokered a peace deal, guaranteeing the Newcastle Jets’s survival.

HSG sent out a statement to members this afternoon confirming they would honour their 10-year licence agreement.

‘‘We are pleased to confirm after detailed negotiation and discussion, the HSG and the FFA have agreed on a conciliatory outcome,’’ the statement said.

‘‘This is a great win for the Hunter Region with the Newcastle Jets remaining in the A-League and the competition restructured with a more secure financial footing and base.’’

The two organisations have been at war since HSG, which is owned by coal baron Nathan Tinkler, announced three weeks ago that it intended to relinquish the Jets’ A-League licence, citing irreconcilable differences with the governing body.

HSG reaffirmed that decision 10 days ago.

At the heart of the matter is a $3.5million acquisition fee which Tinkler was charged when he took over the licence from the financially embattled Con Constantine.

HSG, which has have reportedly tipped $12m into the club in 18 months, also had concerns over the financial viability of the league and had sought greater input from the clubs in its operation.

Both organisations remained tight-lipped today but the Herald understands talks have been progressing behind the scenes.

FFA have also been investigating alternative ownership options and held a meeting with Lake Macquarie millionaire businessman Andrew Poole about his involvement in a community based ownership model.

But the governing body’s preference has always been for HSG to retain the licence.

The about-face coincided with the first meeting of the Joint A-League Strategic Committee in Sydney today.

STATEMENT FROM THE NEWCASTLE JETS

‘‘We are aware you have been through a tough month after the Hunter Sports Group (HSG) returned its A-League licence. With all the confusion surrounding the situation, it was difficult to clearly understand what this meant for the future of the Newcastle Jets. Be assured, during this time our commitment to football and the region has never wavered.

‘‘ We are pleased to confirm that following a series of confidential negotiations with the Football Federation of Australia (FFA), the HSG has agreed to continue and honour its 10 year licence agreement.

‘‘This outcome quite simply would not have been possible without Nathan Tinkler’s generosity, the total commitment of HSG’s CEO Troy Palmer or the passion and enthusiasm shown by our members towards the Newcastle Jets.

‘‘We take confidence from the FFA’s determination to have the HSG continue its work with the community, to continue building a model that is recognised as the best in the league. We now take this confidence forward.

‘‘We also would like to thank our members for fighting for the existence of an A-League team in the Hunter.

‘‘Unfortunately there has been a lot of inaccuracies written and spoken in the media about this process and how it unfolded. This is not the time for recriminations. It is a time to celebrate that decisions have now been made and are being made that will benefit football and ensure a much more secure future for the code throughout Australia.

‘‘It will not benefit the healing process to elaborate on the Jets licence fee and how it came about, the long running Jason Culina insurance matter and what steps are now being introduced to ensure that the A-League becomes a great football competition with a sustainable financial structure and business plan.’’

We are pleased to confirm after detailed negotiation and discussion, the HSG and the FFA have agreed on a conciliatory outcome. This is a great win for the Hunter region with the Newcastle Jets remaining in the A-League and the competition restructured with a more secure financial footing and base.

There are still many innovations and changes to be made to make the A-League an even better competition and for the Jets to rebuild a team around our many exciting young local talents but with the best of endeavours and spirits we are moving forward.

We thank the many members, fans and corporate partners for their support and for the many that understood our position that was to take a stand when there was no other option.

Above all, to the players, management and coaching staff who showed your true support and loyalty, thank you. You are the true believers.

Now is the time to unite as our focus returns to football and winning Championships for the Hunter.

We offer you our hand to come back on board for a truly exciting ride.

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