NEWCASTLE Jets owners are set to review their purchase of their A-League licence after billionaire Gold Coast United owner Clive Palmer claimed they had paid much more for it than any other team in the competition.
In a media statement released tonight, the Hunter Sports Group – headed by fellow mining billionaire Nathan Tinkler – claimed they bought the Newcastle licence last year in good faith after being assured by Football Federation Australia the sum of money they parted with was the standard fee.
But Palmer said on SBS's The World Game that Tinkler's company were the only ones in the A-League who paid a multi-million dollar sum for a licence and legal action is now set to ensue.
Palmer claimed the Jets paid $7million for the licence but it is understood the sum was closer to $4 million.
The revelation is sure to put more stress on the already-strained relationship between Palmer and FFA after he labelled the A-League a 'joke' and told Brisbane's Sunday Mail: "I don't even like the game, I think it's a hopeless game."
The Jets media statement also said the club supported Palmer in his desire for clubs to have a greater say in the way the league was run, more 'transparency and accountability' from the FFA and an overhaul of the A-League's current commercial model which has seen clubs lose approximately $40 million in total a year.
Newcastle say that situation is 'unsustainable'.
The FFA denied they misled the Hunter Sports Group.
"There is a difference between a licence fee and an acquisition fee and the distinction is important," said A-League chief Lyall Gorman.
"The acquisition fee for a licence is unique to each club and reflects the particular circumstances of that club and its market - its history, its success, its support, prior investment including by FFA, the potential of the market and other factors that are relevant to an assessment of value.
"In the case of the Jets, those market variables included the fact there was an established club with a successful history and strong supporter base in a traditional football area.
"The agreement by Hunter Sports Group to the acquisition price reflected those market factors and followed an open and comprehensive commercial negotiation and due diligence process.
"There are other transactions that support the fact that there is a substantial value in an A-League licence."