Newcastle Jets face two trips across Tasman

FOOTBALL Federation Australia said the Newcastle Jets did not consider travelling to Wellington twice for a third season in a row a major issue when a draft of the A-League season draw was sent to clubs for appraisal.

The final draw was issued yesterday. The Jets will kick off their season against Adelaide at Hunter Stadium on Sunday, October 7.

They play 13 games at home and 14 away, including two trips each to Wellington and Perth and a regional fixture against West Sydney in Campbelltown.

Clubs were asked for feedback on the draw before it was finalised.

‘‘We go out to all clubs with the arrangements of the draw and they get to comment on the changes they would like to see,’’ an FFA spokesman said yesterday.

‘‘They give certain priorities to which changes they would like to have to make an equitable draw for all parties.

‘‘For the Jets, two trips to Wellington was not a main priority as an issue.

‘‘I believe they highlighted other areas they wanted fixed more so, and that is what they were given.’’

Van Egmond and the players have been directed not to speak to the Herald.

A request for chief executive Robbie Middleby to comment was also declined.

It is unclear if the coach signed off on the draw, but he was cleary frustrated by aspects of it yesterday in a television interview last night.

The Jets’ only victory in Wellington was a 1-0 triumph on September 9, 2007, when Phoenix debuted in the competition and the same season Newcastle were crowned champions.

Eight visits since to the New Zealand capital have produced eight losses.

In the past two seasons they have been beaten 4-0, 1-0, 2-0 and 5-2.

The Jets’ record in Perth is nearly as bad.

They lost 2-0 in the only journey across the Nullarbor last season and overall they have played 10 games at nib Stadium for one win, four draws and five losses.

Both destinations require a full day of travel, which affects preparation and recovery.

Jets striker Michael Bridges expressed his displeasure about the long-haul journeys on Twitter yesterday afternoon.

‘‘Pleased with the 2 home matches against C.C.Mariners but 2 away in Perth & Wellington,’’ he posted.

The Jets missed the finals by two points last season, finishing seventh after losing to Sydney FC on the final day.

They also finished seventh the season before, five points outside the play-offs.

Betting agency Sportsbet.com posted a market after the draw was issued yesterday and listed the Jets as $18 second outsiders, in front of only new franchise West Sydney at $34.

After opening against Adelaide the Jets are away to Sydney FC before back-to-back home games against arch rivals Central Coast Mariners and Ange Postecoglou’s new club, Melbourne Victory.

The Jets have five home games on Friday nights, six on Saturdays and two on Sundays.

Other key elements of the Jets draw include:

* arch rivals the Central Coast Mariners make two trips to Hunter Stadium, in rounds three and 10;

* Sydney FC also travel up the F3 twice, in rounds 12 and 19;

* the Jets play Sydney for the first time away in round six;

* the first meeting against champions Brisbane Roar is away in round nine;

* Newcastle face four games in 15 days over the Christmas-New Year period, including two visits to Melbourne, the second on New Year’s Day;

* they meet West Sydney at home in the final round on Good Friday; and

* they travel to Perth in rounds five and 11 and Wellington in rounds 18 and 26.

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