Tinkler hands over the Newcastle Jets
The A-League was shocked last Wednesday with the announcement from Nathan Tinkler of Hunter Sports Group (HSG) that they will be handing back their A league license of the Newcastle Jets after only two years
The A-League was shocked last Wednesday with the announcement from Nathan Tinkler of Hunter Sports Group (HSG) that they will be handing back their A league license of the Newcastle Jets after only two years.
With the season reaching its crescendo - and with the League's annual end-of-season awards held on Tuesday night - Tinkler stole the spotlight by unexpectedly pulling the pin on Hunter Sports Group's involvement in Newcastle Jets after losing confidence in FFA.
The Jets also robbed the A-League of valuable exposure at the start of the 2011-2012 campaign by announcing the sacking of coach Branko Culina just two hours after the season launch.
It has been well known for some time that Tinkler has been seething with the lack of transparency over the acquisition of his license in 2010 for five million dollars, believing at first this was the standard practice for licenses only to learn after the settlement other licenses were offered for lesser amounts and with secured bonds and not transferred funds.
Nathan Tinkler follows his fellow billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer out of the game leaving serious questions on the viability of the A-League and the confidence in CEO Ben Buckley. This comes at a time when the FFA have committed substantial investment in the launch of another A-League franchise in West Sydney.
Confidence, and the mood around the game after seven years and eight new franchises promising 'sexy football' seems to have hit rock bottom. For the first time since the meteoric rise of the local game on the back of the 2006 World Cup qualification, key stakeholders and prominent media are questioning the future of the game under Frank Lowy's FFA.
Buckley acknowledged the actions of the two high-profile owners had caused major damage to the code, but insisted it should not detract from the A-League's growing stature.
"I can understand there are some frustrations, that some would make observations that are unhelpful," he said.
"They have to be categorised as the actions of individuals.
"Football has come an enormous way in the last seven or eight years and we shouldn't be letting the actions and behaviours of individuals reflect on the wonderful progress that has been made."
Asked if he was still the best man to run the game given all the recent drama, Buckley responded: "I certainly believe I am."
He also pledged to do everything possible to ensure the Newcastle region was represented in next year's competition.
"What I can guarantee is that we will work overtime to make sure the Hunter Sports Group honours its commitments," Buckley declared.
"We'll continue to pursue the legal options available to us.
"I would hope common sense prevails. I would hope the Hunter Sports Group abides by its commitments.
"Do we want to have a team in Newcastle? Absolutely. It's a vibrant footballing community and I don't think fans should be treated like this."
The only winners in this circus are the lawyers, as three billionaires in Lowy, Palmer and Tinkler prepare to take their fight to the courts: the loser is the game of football.
Never in my time have I ever seen such chaos and you cannot help but look upon this new era of mining billionaires, both rugby enthusiasts at heart, and ask the hard question: will the FFA ever learn lessons moving forward?.
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