DARREN Stewart is out of contention for the head coaching job at the Jets after chief executive Robbie Middleby confirmed that the Newcastle-born former Socceroo had turned down an offer of an interview.
Stewart was on a shortlist of potential candidates for the position which includes interim coach Clayton Zane.
A Singaporean newspaper The New Paper, yesterday reported that Stewart, who is in his first season at Singapore club Woodlands Wellington, had knocked back a deal to return to his home-town club worth ‘‘ten times’’ his current wage.
Middleby said Stewart had been approached but rejected claims that the former Newcastle Breakers defender had been offered the position.
‘‘We gave Darren Stewart the opportunity to come over and be interviewed,’’ Middleby said.
‘‘He is one of a number of candidates that we had identified.
‘‘Darren didn’t come over for that interview because of his current contract situation in Singapore.
‘‘There was no offer of a job and no talk about money. Just an opportunity to come over to be interviewed.’’
The Jets provided the Newcastle Herald with what they say is proof that Stewart was approached for an interview, as opposed to a solid job offer.
The Herald reported in November that the 47-year-old, who has been based in South East Asia for the 15years as a player and coach, had been sounded out by the Jets as speculation mounted over the future of then coach Gary van Egmond.
Van Egmond was sacked in January. Clayton Zane was appointed in a caretaker role and had been considered the leading candidate for the full-time position.
The Jets host Adelaide in a season-defining final-round game at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
They sit seventh, three points adrift of Sydney FC.
To make the six they need to beat the Reds and have Perth defeat Sydney at Allianz Stadium on Sunday and also turnaround the Sky Blues’ three-goal advantage in goal difference.
Middleby conceded that the timing of the Stewart newspaper report was not ideal but said Zane was comfortable with the situation.
‘‘We have contacted a number of potential candidates,’’ Middleby said.
‘‘Clayton is comfortable with the way it is being handled.
‘‘We will sit down at the end of the season and conduct a review of every aspect of the club – staff, players the whole lot.
‘‘Clayton is still very much in contention and regardless of the outcome he will be at the club.’’
Middleby said there was no time frame on making an appointment.
‘‘We need to get the right person. That is why we are going through a lengthy process,’’ he said.
‘‘That is not saying we haven’t got the right person but we need to interview everyone to make sure.’’
In the article which carried the headline ‘‘STEWART REJECTS A-LEAGUE JOB’’ Stewart was quoted as saying it was a ‘‘tough decision’’ to knock back the offer.
‘‘I went away for a couple of days and realised walking out on a commitment is not me.
‘‘I’ve never put money before a contract.’’
Stewart took the reins at Woodlands in January after being let go by Balestier Khalsa, despite leading them to the S League Cup.
Woodlands suffered their first loss of the season on Thursday, going down 1-0 to Warriors in round six of the S-League.