THE A-League have lost another club, after the Newcastle Jets pulled out of next season's competition.
The Hunter Sports Group, who also hold the licence to the NRL's Newcastle Knights, have announced today they will be handing the club's licence back to the league.
The announcement comes only a week after Football Federation Australia announced a new western Sydney-based team will be included next season, effectively replacing the now-defunct Gold Coast United. The loss of Newcastle will leave nine teams in the competition.
The HSG said in a release it has invested almost $12 million since stepping in to save the ailing club less than 18 months ago. The group pointed to a "variety of issues" it had with Football Federation Australia, including a AU$5 million acquisition fee, a disagreement over player Jason Culina's insurance and failure to address concerns over the A-League's "unsustainable" financial model
Chief executive Troy Palmer said it was a "difficult decision" but it was one forced on the group "HSG through an irrevocable breakdown in confidence of the current FFA management".
"As a keen Jets and football fan this has been a tough decision and I am aware the impact this will have on members, players, coaches, fans and the entire football community," Palmer said.
"I am particularly saddened for members and supporters who have embraced our community model, which has been accepted in so many areas as a successful and unique way to engage the entire community and build the A-League brand.
"It is also frustrating to have invested so much time, energy and money to save the Jets for the community at short notice and then continually hit road blocks at the FFA.
Newcastle finished seventh this season, narrowly missing out on a play-off position.
The group said the decision "has no impact" on the Newcastle Knights.