Jets woes put game in doubt

MONEY MATTERS: Newcastle players Ali Abbas  digests the bad news at Jets training yesterday. –  Picture by Kitty Hill
MONEY MATTERS: Newcastle players Ali Abbas digests the bad news at Jets training yesterday. – Picture by Kitty Hill

The Newcastle Jets’ dire financial situation is no closer to resolution amid concerns last night that their game against Brisbane Roar at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday may not go ahead.

The Newcastle Herald understands that some creditors involved in stadium match-day operations have asked to be paid in advance and will withdraw their services if they are not.

Jets owner Con Constantine was unable to pay wages to players and staff last week.

It is understood that unless Constantine receives financial assistance from Football Federation Australia, in the form of a short-term loan or advancement of a $325,000 quarterly grant, he will not be able to pay for stadium match-day services.

Chief executive John Tsatsimas last night refused to comment on the status of the game but earlier said he had ‘‘every confidence that there won’t be an issue come Sunday’’.

Tsatsimas would not put a figure on how much creditors, including match-day contractors, were owed but described it as a ‘‘significant’’ amount.

The FFA issued a statement yesterday which said: “FFA is still in the process of understanding the full extent of Newcastle Jets’ financial situation and will make no further comment at this stage.”

Tsatsimas addressed the players and coaching staff before training yesterday.

‘‘The only assurance I could provide was that we are making every attempt and effort to get a resolution to this as soon as possible,’’ he said. ‘‘It is the first time the wages haven’t been paid. It is a concern, I won’t deviate from that but hopefully it is only an aberration.

‘‘The players are very supportive but I would not insult their intelligence by saying this will be a situation that can be sustained for a long period of time.

‘‘I implore the fans to support their team. The only way they can ensure the success and the longevity of their side, without question, is to turn up.’’

Tsatsimas said Constantine had reached ‘‘an impasse’’.

‘‘There is nothing to suggest that it is anything other than an interim concern,’’ he said.

‘‘But it is very difficult to say what the future may hold unless the landscape changes a bit.’’

Tsatsimas said the club’s restrictive commercial deal at EAS was a major factor in the club’s financial struggles.

‘‘If we had a bit more leverage in being able to capitalise on income streams from the stadium – being pourage, catering signage and sponsorship – certainly I am confident we wouldn’t find ourselves in this position,’’ he said.

‘‘That is an issue which hasn’t helped the situation.

‘‘I’m fairly confident the income stream we would be able to avail ourselves of would have covered the wages and contractors and what-not.’’

The Knights have been the primary lease-holders at EAS through a long-term licence agreement with the International Sports Centre Trust since joining the NSWRL premiership in 1988.

That was renewed in February 2008 until the end of 2017.

That agreement was made with the Hunter Venues Authority, which by then had replaced the ISC Trust as the NSW government’s representatives, under the proviso that the Wests Group would manage the stadium.

The commercial partnership between the Knights and Wests collapsed one month later and the Knights effectively regained management rights as the stadium’s major tenants, and the Jets in turn hired the ground from the Knights, paying rent, on a game-by-game basis.

The Herald has been told the Knights will relinquish that status and hand back control of the stadium to the HVA in return for compensation from the NSW government.

The Knights launched Supreme Court action in February to recover a reported $330,000 debt they said the Jets owed them for hiring the stadium last A-League season, and that matter was eventually settled out of court.

Apart from instigating legal action against the Jets, the Knights suspended pre-paid corporate catering services in hospitality boxes at EAS for the A-League club’s final home game of the season against Adelaide.

Knights chairman Rob Tew last night stressed that the NRL club had no outstanding financial issues with the Jets.

‘‘We made demands to cover debts earlier this year and we have fully recovered those debts, subject to that demand,’’ Tew told the Herald last night.