Former mining magnate Nathan Tinkler has placed the Newcastle Jets into voluntary adminitration just hours before the deadline to pay the club's mounting debts.
Football Federation Australia gave the former billionaire until 4pm today to meet his financial obligations or risk being stripped of his licence.
Administrator James Shaw, from Shaw Gidley, told the ABC the club's future was now in the hands of the FFA.
Tinkler owed hundreds of thousands in unpaid player and staff wages with total club debts said to be around $2.7 million.
But the one-time coal baron said Scottish outfit Dundee United was waiting in the wings to take over the club for less than $5 million which would more than meet the amount owing.
The latest episode in the Jets saga comes just days after the A-League Grand Final and amid concerns about the financial viability of Brisbane Roar, owned by the Bakrie Group.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday Tinkler said: “I’ve been in negotiations with the FFA over the last few days and wasn’t able to get them to guarantee the licence and I haven’t been willing to pay wages unless they guaranteed that so I’ve put the club into administration just now.
“We’ve had an offer in for a couple of weeks from Dundee United. That offer is well in excess of the debts of the club and I’ve asked the administrator to get that sale done and that will see everyone get paid.
“Then, I can move on.
“The only risk to that is if the FFA decide to act in a morally bankrupt manner and take the licence and that presents a whole bunch of other issues.”
Only last month, Tinkler went on a charm offensive, mixing with fans at Hunter Stadium. The A-League club was the last vestige of his once impressive sporting empire.
Calls for the owner to step down from the club had become increasingly strident in recent months.
The move comes as outgoing midfielder Zenon Caravella urged the FFA to step in and put “Tinkler out of his misery’.
Caravella, one of a handful of experienced senior players unceremoniously dumped by the 2014-15 wooden-spooners had this message for the Jets boss.
"Don't be here if you don't want to,” he told the Newcastle Herald. “You are running the place into the ground.
“Don't come here and muck about with people's lives and a football club that takes a long time to establish.
"Everyone is disillusioned, the players, the fans. Everyone.
"The fans can voice their frustration, the players can, too, but ultimately the FFA are the ones with the power.”
Caravella said he had not received superannuation for two and a half years.
Tinkler was warned in February by FFA chief executive David Gallop about the consequences of failing to meet his financial obligations.
Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) is increasingly concerned about the players’ welfare and has also urged the FFA to act.
"Questions should at least be asked," PFA Player Relations Executive Simon Colosimo told the ABC.
"My understanding is, from the FFA, they are doing that and hopefully we get a resolution as soon as possible because the players are our priority, the game is also, and the Hunter region.
"You're talking about a region that has won an A-League championship. Newcastle deserves better."comments