Ex-NSL hero says Newcastle deserves better

Jets sponsor and former Breakers and United player Andy Roberts is hopeful new ownership can help turn around A-League football in Newcastle.

Football Federation Australia ousted Jets owner Nathan Tinkler and terminated the club’s licence on Wednesday with promises of a new outfit in the city.

FFA described Tinkler’s treatment of staff and players – who were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars – as ‘deplorable’.

Roberts, a Hunter Region junior who made close to 250 appearances for Newcastle teams in the NSL and captained Newcastle United, sponsors the Jets through his local clothing business Gentlemen’s Outfitters.

The 45-year old told FourFourTwo that Tinkler losing control of the club was expected for a long time.

“It’s probably happened a bit later than I expected because his track record is not good with meeting his commitments,” Roberts said.

“Players need to be looked after, it’s not good. It’s their livelihood these days, I went through it twice with the Breakers myself, but I had jobs to go to. But now the players are fully professional and the players in Newcastle deserve better.

“I feel for the players because I’ve been in their situation before on a few occasions.”

The Jets finished last on the A-League table in a disastrous season marked by sackings and turmoil.

“This is the fourth month that Tinkler hasn’t met the players’ wages,” Roberts said immediately following FFA’s action.

“The writing’s been on the wall. It’s time for the likes of a Dundee United consortium, heading by the likes of Stephen Thompson, to step in.

“I know they’ve been the interested party waiting in the wings. That interest is well developed and down the track.

“Newcastle deserves better. They won the A-League back in 2008 and the euphoric scenes that flowed from that – there’s such a proud football history in the area.

“They deserve better, the people, the supporters and the players.”

At this point Phil Stubbins remains as the Jets’ head coach.

“It’s up the new owners, whoever takes over,” Roberts said when asked about Stubbins’ future.

“Coaches are judged by results aren’t they? I wouldn’t know another coach anywhere in world of football that would survive the season going through with only three wins.

“He brought players into the club that he let go and I think in a results-driven world I don’t think he would survive that.”

Roberts, who debuted for the Breakers in 1991 after a stint at the AIS, has sponsored Newcastle’s national league representative since he hung up his boots 12 years ago.

“I have been a current sponsor since I retired back in 2003,” the defender said.

“I’ve had an association with the Newcastle side and worked with the club with their corporate uniforms year by year. I’m a club sponsor and I’ll always support them.

“Having that connection now from being a player to the business world is good. And being a past captain of the club, I’ll always support Newcastle.”

Roberts said Jets fans are disillusioned over the events of the past few years and feels getting the management of the club right can help get it back on an even keel.

“The performance on the park this year has reflected the stuff that’s going off the field,” he said.

“You’ve got to get your front office right and it hasn’t been run the right way for a couple of years now. That comes with the player exodus, the coach and the results as well. If we can come some stability within the club and a better front office, you get things right there and things seem to flow on the park.

“It’s come to a head and it’s been coming for a long time. I think the new owners that come in have just got to take Newcastle in a new direction. The fans are disillusioned.

“Each game I’ve gone to this season fans are asking me, what should happen Andy? The way forward is for the likes of a Dundee United consortium to come in and just put their professional touch on it. Newcastle deserves a better outcome than it’s had in the last couple of years.”