A-League news

Buckley hits out at former Jets owner

April 11, 2012

Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley believes the football community should ''condemn'' Newcastle Jets owner Nathan Tinkler for the ''appalling'' timing of the club's decision to quit the A-League.

GettyImagesFFA chief Ben Buckley is angry

With the season reaching its crescendo - and with the League's annual end-of-season awards held on Monday night - Tinkler stole the spotlight by unexpectedly pulling the pin on his involvement in the sport after losing confidence in FFA.

The Jets also robbed the A-League of valuable exposure at the start of the 2011-12 campaign by announcing the sacking of coach Branko Culina just two hours after the season launch.

Buckley was only given a few hours' notice of Tinkler's stunning withdrawal on Monday and blasted both the decision and the timing.

''Frankly, I think it's appalling,'' he said. ''The fact that they hijacked both the season launch and the awards night when all of the other clubs and all of the other players, coaches and referees should be celebrating...I think it's wrong and I think football fans should condemn them for their actions. (I'm) extremely disappointed...of course I'm disappointed.''

Buckley has endured ongoing battles with billionaire owners Clive Palmer of Gold Coast and Tinkler over the running of the game.

Palmer was stripped of his licence and is taking FFA to court while further legal action is on the cards to resolve the impasse with Tinkler.

Buckley acknowledged the actions of the two high-profile owners had caused major damage to the code, but insisted it should not detract from the A-League's growing stature.

''I can understand there are some frustrations, that some would make observations that are unhelpful,'' he said. ''They have to be categorised as the actions of individuals.

''Football has come an enormous way in the last seven or eight years and we shouldn't be letting the actions and behaviours of individuals reflect on the wonderful progress that has been made.''

Asked if he was still the best man to run the game given all the recent drama, Buckley responded: ''I certainly believe I am.''

He also pledged to do everything possible to ensure the Newcastle region was represented in next year's competition.

''What I can guarantee is that we will work overtime to make sure the Hunter Sports Group honours its commitments,'' Buckley declared. ''We'll continue to pursue the legal options available to us. I would hope common sense prevails. I would hope the Hunter Sports Group abides by its commitments.

''Do we want to have a team in Newcastle? Absolutely. It's a vibrant footballing community and I don't think fans should be treated like this.''