Jets dump senior players as FFA sets debt deadline
Club hero Joel Griffiths and skipper Kew Jaliens are among five players sacked by owner Nathan Tinkler.
David Carney’s contract has been terminated for disciplinary reasons while the contracts of Griffiths, Jaliens, Billy Celeski and Adrian Madaschi were due to end at the end of the season.
Carney only recently rejected an approach from his former club Sydney FC recently to stay with the Hunter outfit.
Three coaches, including Newcastle product and assistant coach Clayton Zane, were also given their marching orders. Head coach Phil Stubbins remains safe for now.
Stubbins re-signed Carney and Griffiths - Newcastle's all-time leading goal scorer - in May last year, and signed Madaschi and Celeski soon after, hailing their experience as a key factor in bringing them to Hunter Stadium.
The cleanout comes as Football Federation Australia set a deadline of this week for Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group to meet their debts.
It is understood the club is behind on player superannuation payments and owes money to other bodies including Northern NSW Football.
"FFA is aware of debts owed by Hunter Sports Group (HSG) to football stakeholders and other service providers," an FFA spokesman said.
"These matters are the subject of undertakings provided by HSG to FFA. The expectation is that these matters will be urgently addressed.
"It is obvious that the Newcastle Jets are not currently a stable operation in structure, personnel or finances. HSG has been told it needs to take action this week."
Default on the payment could precipitate a club takeover by FFA.
Tinkler cited a need to change the club culture for Wednesday’s cull of the playing roster and backroom.
"These decisions were made in the best interest of the playing group and to improve the club culture for the young players who we believe are the future of the Jets" he said in a club statement.
“The club would like to thank the five players for their efforts and wish them well for the next stage of their careers.”
Tinkler assumed control of the day-to-day running of the troubled club following the resignation and departure of chairman Ray Baartz and chief executive Robbie Middleby earlier this month.
Simmering problems behind the scenes manifested themselves in a humiliating 7-0 defeat away to Adelaide United when the Jets returned to A-League action last Saturday after a break for the Asian Cup.
Reports have since emerged of players rebelling against head coach Phil Stubbins, who apparently retains Tinkler's support.
The players' union, Professional Footballers Australia, issued a statement on Wednesday denying claims of a player revolt.
"The players remain committed to honouring their contracts and expect the Jets to do the same," the statement said.
"It says speculation that the players are considering industrial action is inaccurate."
The Jets have allowed defender Sam Galloway and playmaker Marcos Flores to leave the club in recent weeks, with goalkeeper Mark Birighitti moving to Serie B on loan and promising youngster Andrew Hoole announcing his decision to leave when his contract expires.