Tinkler's 20-20 vision for Jets

NINE days is all it has taken to convince Hunter Valley tycoon Nathan Tinkler to bankroll the Newcastle Jets for the next decade.

Tinkler stepped in as Newcastle's A-League saviour on Wednesday last week when Football Federation Australia revoked Con Constantine's licence. The controversial former owner had cited financial difficulties and had been unable to pay players for a month.

Tinkler initially agreed to prop up the ailing club until the end of the season but signed an option entitling him to extend that arrangement.

The mining and horse-racing magnate, estimated this week to be worth $610 million, said yesterday that the positive response since his takeover had encouraged him to sign a 10-year licence, taking him through until 2020.

"When I took up the interim licence two weeks ago I said that we wanted to gauge the support for the club from the local community and local business sector," Tinkler said in a statement yesterday.

"I am pleased to say that the response so far from all facets of the Hunter community has been overwhelming, and that has given me the confidence to commit to the Newcastle Jets for the long term.

"Our aim is to build the Newcastle Jets into a great asset for the Hunter community, Jets members and as a nursery for football talent in the region.

"This announcement is another step along that road."

The news was welcomed by FFA chief executive Ben Buckley, who just a few weeks ago indicated that Newcastle's position was so tenuous the club might not survive the season.

"This is a fantastic result for the A-League, the club and the people of the Newcastle area and shows that football has a huge future in the region," Buckley said.

"I urge all of the Hunter community to continue to get behind the Jets and help Nathan and his team build something special."

Tinkler's first move after yesterday's decision was to instruct executive chairman Ken Edwards to inform all players and staff, who are yet to meet their new boss.

"Obviously it's a priority for him to meet the players and staff and he'll do that as soon as he can," Edwards said yesterday.

Tinkler's prompt decision was especially timely because as of yesterday all A-League players who are coming out-of-contract were entitled to start negotiating with rival clubs.

Edwards and Jets coach Branko Culina can now turn their attention to which players they want to retain and also identify potential imports they can bring in to bolster next season's squad.

"Our planning in the last week has obviously been short term," Edwards said.

"But now Nathan has made this decision and made it so quickly, we can be strategic and plan for the long term.

"So it just makes a huge difference to the way we can operate . . . everyone has got certainty now - players, coaches, sponsors, members. The whole landscape changes.

"I was certain we were going to have a good year anyway with the interim arrangements, but now that we've got the long term sorted out, we can do even better."

Edwards expected it would take "a month or so" to assemble a well-qualified board of directors to run the club on behalf of Tinkler.

He said the A-League club had also attracted interest from potential sponsors.

"We've had lots of offers of support," he said. "But Nathan has only had the licence for eight or nine days, and we want to make sure we don't jump too quickly.

"We want to get all our ducks in a row and do this properly. And obviously now that the decision has been made to take it long term, we can take another view and look at some of our processes.

"We're not going to rush anything because there is no great urgency."

As for the prospect of a possible merger with the Newcastle Knights, Edwards said Tinkler's sole focus so far had been to ensure the Jets were operating smoothly.

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