Nathan Tinkler - a Knight in shining armour no more. AAP Image/NZPA, Tim Hales
Nathan Tinkler has made a remarkable turnaround and taken back ownership of the Newcastle Jets after mediation with FFA chairman Frank Lowy.
Nathan Tinkler and his Hunter Sports Group sensationally handed back the club’s A-League licence on the eve of the finals several weeks ago, citing issues with football’s governing body, including the acquisition fee it paid for the Jets and the saga surrounding Jason Culina.
It appears face-to-face talks between the two billionaires has resulted in the conflict between Hunter Sports Group and the FFA being resolved.
The FFA has confirmed the resolution with an announcement this afternoon (see below).
Tinkler, who also owns the Newcastle Knights and has mooted possibly backing Newcastle teams in the NBL and WNBL, faced a backlash in the Hunter from Jets fans after handing in the licence.
A courtroom battle between HSG and the FFA, now averted, was on the cards and local Newcastle businessmen had been sounded out to bankroll the Jets.
The end of the dispute between Tinkler and the FFA is a rare piece of good news for the governing body, which is funding a new Western Sydney club and has been involved in a running battle with former Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer.
FFA MEDIA RELEASE on the Newcastle Jets and HSG
Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Hunter Sports Group (HSG) have today reaffirmed their commitment to working together for the good of the Newcastle Jets, the Hyundai A-League and football in the Hunter Valley.
The announcement follows talks that have resolved various issues related to the operation of the Hyundai A-League licence held by HSG. As a result, the Newcastle Jets under the ownership of HSG will continue to participate in the Hyundai A-League.
FFA Chairman, Mr Frank Lowy AC, and HSG Chairman, Mr Nathan Tinkler, held face-to-face talks over the weekend. Mr Lowy said the discussions were characterised by goodwill brought to the table by both parties.
“It was a good opportunity for Nathan and I to meet face-to-face and resolve the issues that had affected the relationship between FFA and HSG,” said Mr Lowy. “FFA has made some concessions in good faith in order to resolve the matters.
“When Nathan first took on the Newcastle Jets, I welcomed his commitment to running a strong and successful A-League club in Newcastle on behalf of the community of the Hunter region.
“Today, my confidence is renewed over Nathan’s personal drive to make the Jets and the Hyundai A-League successful. We agreed on a way forward that addresses the issues HSG have raised and we are now going to get on with developing the game together in a key region for football.
“With more than 10,000 Jets members and an average crowd this season over 12,000 HSG has demonstrated its ability to engage with the community and to run a successful team and club.”
Mr Tinkler said that from time to time parties in any business will have differences, but that there is now an opportunity for FFA and HSG to work together in achieving shared goals.
“Frank Lowy flew to Brisbane to meet with me face-to-face and I took that as a sign of goodwill,” said Mr Tinkler. “It was a gesture I certainly appreciated.
“I welcomed the opportunity to meet and discuss these issues in person. We now have a way forward and I remain committed to ensuring the Newcastle Jets is one of the most successful clubs in the Hyundai A-League.
“I am delighted to be able to support the Newcastle Jets on behalf of football fans in the Hunter region and to continue to build a strong relationship with the community.
“When I first made this commitment I did it on behalf of the community and I am committed to further developing football and sport in a community I grew up in and am proud of.”