September, 2018

Jets face threat of legal action over sackings

PROFESSIONAL Footballers Australia chief executive Adam Vivian said four of the five Jets players facing the sack had not yet received formal notification of the club’s plan to terminate their contracts.
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In a statement on Wednesday night, the Jets announced their intention to pay out the contracts of captain Kew Jaliens, Joel Griffiths, Billy Celeski and Adrian Madaschi and sack Carney for disciplinary reasons.

But after a series of group and individual meetings with those players and some of their teammates in Newcastle on Thursday night, Vivian said Jaliens, Griffiths, Celeski and Madaschi, all of whom were off contract at the end of this A-League season, were still awaiting the relevant paperwork from club owner and chairman Nathan Tinkler.

‘‘The players that have had their contracts threatened to be terminated, some people have very specific issues in regards to their personal situations, their family and other opportunities,’’ Vivian told the Newcastle Herald.

‘‘The four players that have been offered a mutual termination actually haven’t received any of those mutual termination offers as yet.

‘‘They have not received any correspondence whatsoever, and David Carney has received correspondence in the form of a third disciplinary notice, however, he vehemently refutes the allegation and he’s spoken in depth with us about that situation.

‘‘We believe he has a very strong case and that we will also be representing him on that issue.’’

Vivian would not discuss details of the allegation against Carney for legal reasons ‘‘but hopefully in the fullness of time we’ll be able to discuss that further’’.

On another dramatic day at Newcastle’s struggling football flagship, the PFA threatened the Jets with legal action, accusing the club of failing to comply with the players’ collective bargaining agreement.

‘‘The actions of the club in attempting to terminate the contracts of the players, without satisfactory justification, are not in accordance with the CBA,’’ Vivian said.

‘‘If the situation is not remedied immediately, we will take the necessary legal steps.

‘‘The actions of the club undermine the A-League, which is a competition that is based on respect for contracts and committed to player wellbeing.’’

In other developments:

● In the presence of coach Phil Stubbins, three senior players spoke out against the embattled manager at a team meeting at the club’s Ray Watt Oval training base on Thursday morning.

● It is understood those three players made it clear they had no confidence in the coach and, though they will continue to honour their contractual obligations, they would no longer be playing for him but instead for their teammates and Jets fans.

● The Herald was told Griffiths, a former A-League Golden Boot winner, appeared briefly at that meeting then left after a heated exchange with Stubbins.

● It is understood Griffiths made it clear that he wanted to see out his contract with the Jets and was not prepared to accept a mutual termination pay-out.

● The Herald was told former Jets assistant coach Mark Jones is poised to rejoin the club to replace Clayton Zane, who was sacked on Wednesday with goalkeeping coach Neil Young and trainer Andrew Packer.

● Vivian dismissed speculation players were considering boycotting training or their next game, against Brisbane at Hunter Stadium next Friday.

Vivian plans to stay in Newcastle as long as it takes to resolve the crisis between the players, Stubbins and Tinkler, who as owner and chairman faces a Football Federation Australia deadline of Saturday to settle the club’s debts.

That includes outstanding superannuation entitlements and $140,000 owed to Northern NSW Football.

Vivian said he had spoken to the three players who spoke out against Stubbins in the course of his meetings on Thursday night, and all expressed their anger and frustration about the circumstances surrounding the departure of five of their teammates and a perceived lack of leadership from the coach and Tinkler.

‘‘There’s a level of frustration not only with Phil but also with regards to the way the situation has been handled,’’ Vivian said. ‘‘I think it’s exacerbated by the fact that they’re watching five of their fellow professionals potentially being terminated in a way that they see as quite abrupt and untoward.

‘‘They’re still waiting to see the strategic rationale and the football rationale as to why this is occurring in the way it is.

‘‘It’s been a disjointed process, so from their perspective, if it had been managed in a way that was followed methodically, and they were given the requisite consultation, perhaps the outcome would have been different.

‘‘In football, it’s not uncommon for there to be a mutual termination agreement reached and for people to part ways, but under the circumstances and the way it’s happened and the level of grey area around it, it’s created a level of anxiety which perhaps otherwise wouldn’t exist.’’

Tinkler told a Sydney newspaper on Thursday that the five players facing the sack had led a player revolt against Stubbins.

‘‘Carney has three strikes against his name and has been let go because of behavioural issues. I won’t go into them. He knows what they are,’’ Tinkler said.

Carney declined to comment when contacted by the Herald, indicating he was heeding legal advice.

Referring to Griffiths, a former Jets grand final hero and crowd favourite, Tinkler said: “Joel would be the first to tell you his best days are behind him.

‘‘I’ve got some time for Joel, but his comments and actions over the past week have been disappointing. There is a spot for him at Perth if he wants to go. They are keen to take him and he has the chance to win a title over there, but that’s up to him.’’

Responding to Tinkler’s comments about him, Griffiths tweeted: ‘‘Wow fair enough.’’

Northern NSW Football chief executive David Eland said the saga was severely damaging grassroots football in Newcastle.

‘‘Every day it goes on, it’s just generating more negative publicity and more negative talk,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s disappointing when the game is on such a high locally.’’

BCA looks to start up youth girls’ competition

BALLARAT Cricket Association is looking to mimic Ballarat Football League’s successful youth girls” competition.
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A season for junior female cricketers is being floated by association director Mark Grogan, who is planning a meeting with interested participants early next month.

Grogan said the BCA was looking to feed off the BFL’s recent initiative, which was created with four teams in 2011 and swelled to 11 sides in 2014.

The idea has stemmed from the BCA’s in-depth look at its future and the creation of a strategic plan, which partly focuses on the need to increase participation.

“My plan is to run a Twenty20 competition, where we might only play every second or third week and get that up and running,” Grogan said.

“The idea is to get some interest and build it from there.

“I think it would be a winner because really the hard work has been done by the football league.”

Grogan said there were already two girls teams running out of Golden Point and numerous girls playing with the boys in BCA junior grades, as well as the senior Napoleons-Sebastopol side in the Victorian Women’s Cricket Association.

Money is also expected to be available to loan by clubs looking to start up both junior boys and girls teams, thanks to a couple of new BCA sponsors.

“It was primarily set up for the boys’ sides – that was the idea of the money – (but) now the girls have got an interest, we are going to flow into the girls as well,” Grogan said.

“They (clubs) have got to come to me with a business plan, if you like, then we tick the boxes and say that qualifies you for ‘x’ amount of money.”

Grogan will host a meeting for interested female cricketers on Tuesday, February 10 at Eastern Oval.

More information can be sought from the BCA website or by calling Grogan on 0473 071 970.

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Ruddick happy to have world-class company to train with

RACE walker Kelly Ruddick has lost count of the number of hours she has spent training alone on the streets of Ballarat.
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Training partners Heather Lewis, left, and Alana Barber embrace at the 2014 British Race Walking Championships. MAIN PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES

The multiple national and state champion is a familiar sight at Wendouree Parade, carving out solo laps of Lake Wendouree.

Ballarat is a race walking heartland, but Ruddick is in a class of her own, leaving her no choice when it comes to one-out training sessions.

So it is no wonder she has been delighted to have a couple of world-class athletes to train with in Ballarat – even for only a few days.

New Zealand champion Alana Barber and British champion Heather Lewis will return to Ballarat for a second time next week to train alongside Ruddick, who is a national 20km champion.

Ruddick said it had been a welcome change to have training partners.

“They really liked the lake, so they’re coming back.”

Along with doing a few laps of the lake, Ruddick took them through Victoria Park.

Ruddick struck up a link with the international visitors at a Victorian Race Walking Club event in Melbourne earlier this month, when Barber and Lewis went head-to-head in a one-two finish over 20km and Ruddick took out a 10km event.

Barber and Lewis then joined Ruddick for a training session in Ballarat before competing in the 5000m in the Victorian Country Track and Field Championships in Bendigo over the Australia Day long weekend. Ruddick successfully defended her country title, but for the first time in 10 to 15 years at the meet she said she had really been pushed.

Although she was never going to lose the gold medal – overseas athletes are not eligible to claim the championship – Ruddick was pushed all the way by Barber.

And she welcomed it.

Ruddick, who was almost 10 minutes clear of her nearest country rival, had just 11.81 seconds to spare from Barber. Lewis was disqualified.

Ruddick said it was the sort of competition she needed as she built up towards national and Oceania 20km championships in Adelaide on February 22.

She is hoping to secure selection in the Australian Flame team for this year’s IAAF World Championships in Beijing.

Ruddick has already bettered the qualifying time for Beijing twice and believes a top-three finish will earn her a trip.

It will be her second trip to China in two years if successful in gaining selection.

Her national title last year earned her a place in the Australian team for the IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicang – an experience which Ruddick rates as the highlight of her athletic career.

She said selection would also be a step closer to her Olympic dream, with Rio de Janeiro on her radar.

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Whisky distilleries win top honours

Lark Distillery’s Bill Lark has been a leading figure in Australian whiskey’s emergence.
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TASMANIA’S booming whisky industry continues to go from strength to strength with the naming of two of the state’s drops as “liquid gold” by the world’s leading authority on the spirit.

The Whisky Bible, an unrivalled compendium of whiskies from around the world compiled by Englishman Jim Murray, bestowed the honour on Tasmanian distilleries Sullivans Cove and Lark, as well as Western Australia’s Limeburners.

Murray scores each of the hundreds of whiskies he tastes each year out of 100, and automatically accords those scoring 94 or above “liquid gold” status. The 2015 Whisky Bible contains more than 4500 brands or “expressions” of whisky from around the world, with only a “very small fraction” scoring in the coveted top bracket, according to Murray.

“These whiskies are, in my view, the elite: the finest you can currently find on the whisky shelves of the world,” Murray says on his website.

The 12th edition of the guide added more than 1000 new entries and awarded 95.5 points to Sullivans Cove’s American Oak Single Cask varietal, 94.5 to Limeburners’ Single Malt Barrel M61, and 94.0 to Lark Distillery’s Single Malt Cask Strength.

The trio joins other Australian whiskies to receive liquid gold status in recent years including Tasmania’s Overeem (Old Hobart Distillery), Velvet Hammer (Heartwood Malt Distillery) and Nant Distilling Company.

Australia’s burgeoning whisky industry is now recognised as one of the world’s best boutique examples of the craft, regularly taking on and defeating larger established distilleries and multinational companies from Scotland and elsewhere.

The recognition for Sullivans Cove’s American Oak Cask variety (barrel HH0047) – the fourth time the distillery has collected liquid gold recognition – joins the World Whisky Awards gong for its French Oak Cask style in the trophy cabinet.

Sullivans Cove chief distiller Patrick Maguire says the award was “a fantastic recognition of the superior quality of our range”.

“It is great to have the American Oak in the limelight after all the attention that the French Oak has been getting of late,” he said.

“This award is made so much more special by the fact that barrel HH0047 was the 47th cask that we ever made and it’s great to know that we got it right so early.”

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WE’LL SURVIVE: Zane says Jets will rise again

HOPEFUL: Clayton Zane with wife Cassie, daughter Abbey and son Harry on Thursday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollSACKED Newcastle Jets assistant coach Clayton Zane is sure the crisis-wracked club can rise from the mire and become an A-League powerhouse, with or without Nathan Tinkler, but only if it reconnects with the community it represents.
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Zane and fellow coaching staff members Neil Young and Andrew Packer had their contracts terminated on Wednesday, several hours before captain Kew Jaliens and senior players Joel Griffiths, David Carney, Billy Celeski and Adrian Madaschi suffered the same fate.

Disappointed and disillusioned but not despondent, Zane said Tinkler, not coach Phil Stubbins, had called him on Wednesday to say his services were no longer required.

Zane has another year to run on the two-year deal he signed 12 months ago and plans to pursue his legal options, but only after the five sacked players have resolved their differences with Tinkler.

“Nathan Tinkler called me and just said they were going in a different direction and thanks for my work but not to come in any more,” Zane told the Newcastle Herald.

“He wished me all the best and we left it at that, and I wished him and Phil all the best. I’ve got another year on my contract, but I’ll pursue that at a later date to see what I’m entitled to.

“He said four weeks effective immediately, so I’m assuming he doesn’t really know my contract status, which is another full year because I signed exactly this time last year.”

The Jets appointed Zane as interim head coach 12 months ago after parting company with premiership-winning manager Gary van Egmond.

The 37-year-old former Socceroos striker remained on staff as an assistant to Stubbins, a former assistant at Adelaide, who joined the Jets in May.

“I was given assurances by the management at the time, when I was stepping into that head role,” Zane said.

“I was put on the spot when I took over as interim manager and I was really concerned because my wife was just about to have our second child so I was concerned about the job security. But I was told in no uncertain terms that I would be looked after for a two-year period.”

A home-grown international who has represented Newcastle in the various incarnations of the national league as a player and coach, Zane is sure the Jets will be strong again but feels for fans who have become disenchanted with their club.

Zane believed the Jets would benefit from the input of Football Federation Australia, along similar lines to the role the National Rugby League played in rebuilding the Newcastle Knights after Tinkler handed back the reins last June.

“I’m distraught that the fans can be dragged into this in such a manner, but deep inside I know it’s for the right reasons and I think the club will get to where it needs to get to,” he said. “But me being one of the fans now, we all just have to be patient and see how it plays out.

“The FFA have got some smart people in there, they know whether the club is being run right or whether it does need an injection of new blood, but we’ll leave that to the experts.

“But I feel for the fans because they’ve been messed around. They’ve not really had a lot to cheer about for a number of years now, and it could be a very big club if the right people come in.

“You look at the Knights now, and it just seems like a whole different place now that they’ve installed a board with real credibility with local business people, and, moving forward, I think a community-based model is the way forward for this club.

“Even if Nathan is involved, I still think there needs to be some smart business people from the local area to start to tap into . . . so whether it’s Nathan in charge or anyone else, we need to make sure it becomes a community club again because we’re starting to get away from that.”

Zane said he had not spoken to Stubbins since the coach instructed him at a staff meeting on Tuesday to oversee training. Stubbins then flew to Brisbane for crisis talks with Tinkler.

“Probably the biggest shock was because I thought I was quite close with Phil. I had a good relationship, and all the feedback prior to what’s happened had always been positive,” he said.

“He really trusted me with a lot of things on the training track, and delegated a lot of bigger things that maybe other head coaches might not have done for their assistants, so it just seemed like there was a lot of trust in my ability as an assistant.

“So I was a little bit shocked, also because I’d talked to him on the morning before he’d flown up to Brisbane and told me to take the session the next day as well, so he’d already planned ahead for the rest of the week with me heavily involved in it.”

Zane did not anticipate rejoining the Jets any time soon, irrespective of uncertainty surrounding Tinkler’s hold on the A-League licence, but wants to remain involved in the game in Newcastle.

“I’ve already had Gary van Egmond from the Emerging Jets ring me to say when I’m ready to have a chat, they’d love me to come and do some work with their junior program, and I’ve run a small academy here for the last four years that I can always go back to,” he said.

“I’ve not thought too far because I’ve not really had a lot of time to think about what I will do, but soccer is a lot bigger now so there’s more opportunity in it. It might have to be back at the development or grassroots level, but I want to stay in football.”