Newcastle have struck a blow to Western United’s A-League finals hopes with a 1-0 win at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Yesterday’s announcement that Hunter Sports Group was handing back its A-League licence to run the Newcastle Jets may have come as a shock. But it was far from a surprise.
The circumstances feel familiar because the issues being raised are the exact same as those brought up by Clive Palmer just weeks ago.
This time, however, there’s no billionaire sideshow to distract attention away from Football Federation Australia.
Even in the way the relationship seemingly ended yesterday the issues that brought things to a head can be seen.
For example, while FFA say HSG and Tinkler have refused to meet with them over their concerns, the Jets owners say they were only willing to meet the peak body if they were presented with transparent proof of the other licence fees owners have paid – a request which was denied.
Yet, this isn’t necessarily the end of the road in the Hunter Valley as Tinkler may be trying to back FFA into a corner.
When HSG was negotiating with the Knights to take over the club, they made a similar threat, declaring they were walking away and listing their reasons why.
A couple weeks later HSG’s $100 million bid to take over the Knights was voted in by the club’s members.
Their announcement had put so much pressure on the owners they gave Tinkler what he wanted, paving the way for the deal to go ahead.
A similar approach may be happening here.
Certainly HSG CEO Troy Palmer had no shortage of grievances yesterday.
He called the owners committee FFA recently announced a “toothless tiger” and listed grievances such as FFA rolling over “all of their centralised commercial agreements” – the very existence of which most A-League owners are frustrated by.
Palmer also brought up how days after FFA told the A-League owners “They couldn’t pay out the final club grant this year because they couldn’t afford it”, they announced they’ll self-fund a new Western Sydney club.
While the thinking behind FFA’s decision is reasonable – you need to spend money to make money – it’s also not beyond comprehension why this would leave someone like Tinkler so aggrieved.
“There needs to be change and unless change occurs I fear for the game,” Palmer went on to say.
Most likely Tinkler is setting out his terms, telling FFA if they want him involved then it has to be his way.
If they don’t oblige the mining magnate, Tinkler leaves FFA with the choice of culling another club, trying to fund it with money it doesn’t have or an arduous legal battle.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.
In the mean time HSG say they are turning their attention to a high-performance youth academy. Palmer explaining it is in “grassroots in the Hunter region where we can manage and really make a difference.”
That may be so, but at this rate there won’t be a local A-League or W-League side for these local kids to aspire to.