Mills trusts in loyal Jets fans

DEVOTED Jets fan Toby Mills felt like someone had punched him in the stomach when news broke that Nathan Tinkler had relinquished the club’s A-League licence in April.

Mills was working at a nursing home in Beecroft in north-west Sydney when he saw a television report outline the developments.

‘‘I felt sick,’’ the 21-year-old recalled.

‘‘It was as though someone had punched me in the guts.

‘‘We were re-signing players one day and the next day he was handing the licence back.’’

Desperate for his club to survive, Mills put into action a plan for a supporters’ trust he had been working on for 18months.

Three weeks later Tinkler, after receiving a number of concessions from Football Federation Australia, reaffirmed his commitment to fund the Jets for the remaining eight years of the term of his licence.

Despite Tinkler’s about face, Mills has forged ahead with his plans and will hold a public forum about the supporter’s trust at Newcastle Town Hall next Monday at 7pm.

‘‘The room seats 800 and hopefully we can fill it up with people interested in forming a supporters’ trust,’’ Mills said.

‘‘I’m hoping to lock in some key speakers from the likes of Northern NSW Football, local councillors and people interested in football.

‘‘We may not have a stake in the club but it is important that the fans have a unified voice.

‘‘Currently Nathan Tinkler has eight years to run on the licence and he might keep it for another 10 after that.

‘‘But there is no guarantees. It is about putting things in place so that in eight years time or 10 years time or even next year, if he decides to pull the pin, there is something there.

‘‘If Tinkler does stay there and we don’t take a direct stake in the club, the trust is there to support it.

‘‘Just like there is a union for workers, this would be a union for supporters. We would speak with one voice and make sure we are heard.’’

Mills has been supporting the Jets since their inception and came up with the idea for a trust when former owner Con Constantine ran into financial difficulties.

‘‘When Con’s issues came up I started the process of researching and writing things down, highlighting different examples of ownership models,’’ Mills said.

‘‘I think the idea of fans owning the club or having involvement is such an important thing.’’

Mills has put together a 16-page draft for a supporters’ trust which is inspired by lower-tier English clubs Exeter City and Brentford, where fans buy a share in the club.

‘‘I have looked at a lot of supporters’ trusts and supporter ownership structures and have basically taken bits and pieces which I think would really suit Newcastle,’’ he said.

‘‘Those plans will be outlined at the forum.

‘‘We will probably ask for a show of hands to see if their is support for it and there will be pledge forms available at the end.

‘‘Hopefully we will get a few volunteers to form a working committee which will work towards registering the trust as an organisation.’’

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