Billionaire Nathan Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group said it’s returning Newcastle Jets’ A-League soccer license to Football Federation Australia, which said it will not accept the termination.
Tinkler’s sports management group, which acquired the Jets in September 2010, said it made the decision because it has been “unable to resolve a variety of issues with the FFA,” including a A$5 million ($5.1 million) acquisition fee.
“Having lost confidence in the FFA management and its ability to find a resolution, it is clear we have no other option,” Troy Palmer, chief executive officer of Hunter Sports Group, said in a statement. “It is about removing ourselves from an administration in which we have an untenable relationship.”
The 36-year-old Tinkler, an electrician-turned-miner who is Australia’s youngest billionaire, had stepped in to rescue the Jets after the FFA withdrew the license of former owner Con Constantine because the 2008 A-League champion ran out of money to pay players and stadium fees.
The Sydney-based FFA, which last week announced plans for a new A-League team in Sydney’s western suburbs, said it doesn’t accept that Hunter Sports Group has the right to return the Jets’ license and expects the club to honor its A-League participation agreement, which runs through June 2020.
“The obligation is clearly upon the Hunter Sports Group to live up to its commitments, live up to its contract, pay the players, pay the coaches and continue to operate the team,” FFA Chief Executive Officer Ben Buckley said at a news conference. “We’ll be speaking with our lawyers, taking advice. We’ll be writing to them that we do not accept the termination and that they should live up to the commitments that have been made.”
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