NORTHERN NSW Football chief David Eland paid tribute to the Jets players and staff for sticking with the club as the whole region ‘‘breathed a massive sigh of relief’’ yesterday when Hunter Sports Group committed to again running the A-League club.
Eland said Football Federation Australia head of national teams and football development John Boultbee called him yesterday morning to tell him news was coming in the next 48 hours about the Jets’ status, but the NNSWF was still surprised at the breakthrough.
‘‘We’ve all breathed a massive sigh of relief,’’ Eland said. ‘‘I’m absolutely thrilled that the region’s going to have a presence in the A-League.
‘‘As I’ve said, our presence in the A-League and the W-League is essential for the continued growth and development of the sport.’’
NNSWF was waiting in the wings to take back control of the Jets W-League side, which was funded and managed by HSG for the first time last season.
Eland was unsure if HSG would take back responsibility for the women’s side, but no mention was made of the W-League in press releases from FFA and HSG yesterday heralding their breakthrough.
NNSWF was poised to make a three-year commitment to the national women’s team before the backflip by HSG yesterday.
‘‘I will make contact with FFA when the dust settles on this decision and get a clearer indication of what’s going on with the W-League,’’ Eland said. ‘‘In the spirit of co-operation, Northern will certainly be prepared to talk to both parties about what role they’d like us to play in the W-League.’’
But the focus yesterday was on the positives of HSG’s decision.
Eland praised HSG and the resolve of the Jets’ employees for keeping the club together.
‘‘All credit to the players and staff involved, it must have been just so unsettling the last couple of weeks,’’ he said.
‘‘If any of them had put up their hand and said they were taking an offer elsewhere, you could not begrudge them for doing it amid all the uncertainty, so well done to the players especially who have stuck strong.
‘‘I think it’s going to be a really exciting time for the club and the sport now.’’
He said it was ‘‘great news for the youth league side’’ which faced a clouded future in the Northern NSW State League without the guarantee of an A-League side next season.
The Jets under20s are undefeated leaders after four rounds in their maiden campaign.
‘‘Northern NSW’s decision to keep the Jets Youth in the state league has been vindicated,’’ he said.
‘‘It would have been absolutely dreadful if we’d made a rash decision and not allowed the team to continue.
‘‘I’m excited about the Jets Youth being in the state league and what an awesome opportunity it is for the most talented players in the region.’’
Eland’s priority is now on resuming talks with HSG about an alliance agreement with the Jets which he hopes will improve the relationship between the bodies.