JETS INSIDER - Robbie Middleby

In this week’s edition of Jets Insider, CEO Robbie Middleby is answering questions from the Club’s Members and supporters.

In this week-s edition of Jets Insider, Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets CEO Robbie Middleby is answering questions from the Club-s Members and supporters.

Middleby speaks about the Jets- Socceroos representatives, the Club-s Membership campaign and the Jets- upcoming pre-season fixtures.

Kasey Peters asks via email: What do you think having five players selected in the Socceroos squad says about the club?

Robbie Middleby (RM): It-s well deserved recognition for all those individual players, but from a Club perspective, it shows we-re building towards something for the future.

We-ve given players the opportunity to excel in the A-League, especially the younger ones and they-ve been rewarded for their performances with selection in this Socceroos squad.

We take a lot of pride in that and I think this experience with the national team will hold those players in good stead for the coming season and beyond.

@Samnizzi asks via Twitter: Are you signing Nathan Burns?

RM: Nathan Burns is a player who would definitely compliment our current squad. Unfortunately things haven-t worked out with the moves to Greece and Korea, but it would be great to have him back in the A-League. Our Members will be the first to know if there are any developments regarding Nathan.

@thommo477 asks via Twitter: Robbie, why did the club pass up the opportunity to sign Marcos Flores, a proven number 10, which is what we need?

RM: Marcos was certainly a player that was considered. In the end, Marcos has signed with the Mariners now and we-re looking forward to coming up against them in this season-s F3 Derbies.

@thommo477 asks via Twitter: Robbie, why do say that we are struggling under the cap with places, when we can move youngsters outside of it?

RM: As a Club, we have an overall player budget. In regards to the A-League salary cap, we will always adhere to the regulations but explore any opportunity to utilise the salary cap concessions.

Josh Harris asks via email: When can we expect the new away strip to arrive?

RM: The approval process and production of a new playing strip takes time, but we-re working with our kit supplier ISC and hoping to have them ready by late August or early September. In the meantime, you can pre-purchase the new Heritage Away Strip from our online store to ensure you-re one of the first ones to own the strip when it does arrive.

@thommo477 asks via Twitter: Robbie, do you feel any pressure on your job given the run of poor league results since you became CEO?

RM: I feel a massive responsibility to the football community of Newcastle and the Hunter region. While on-field results haven-t been what we wanted in the last couple of seasons, we-ve made considerable improvements in a number of other key areas such as Membership, average attendance, sponsorship, time in the community, corporate sales and merchandise sales. We-ve also been heavily involved with NNSWF to provide our local juniors the best opportunity to become elite players through the Emerging Jets program.

I understand that the overriding factor is the on-field results and they haven-t been what we-ve wanted. I feel a big obligation to get this right and I-ll continue to strive to do so, for everyone that supports our game in the region.

@thommo477 asks via Twitter: Why is the club playing so many lower level trial matches? Surely the best way is to play A-League teams?

RM: After consultation with the football department, the thought process was that because the pre-season is so long, it would be good to play against clubs in the local community early on in the pre-season, to put back into the football in the Hunter region.

Unfortunately the weather forced us to call a couple of those games off, but we-re looking forward to our upcoming matches against Weston Bears FC and the NBN State League Select team.

We are working on locking in a number of matches against A-League opposition for later on in the pre-season.

Tori Klein asks via email: How are our Membership numbers tracking? Are we likely to beat last year-s figures?

RM: We-ve been really pleased with the start to our Membership campaign with more than 5,000 Members already signing up. It-s difficult to predict what the final total will be, but we-ve had over 10,000 Members the last two seasons and we would like to sustain that level.

We understand that we-re coming off a disappointing season last year with us not making the top six, but I-m sure each Member that signs up for this season can expect an improvement on that, because as a football club that-s what we expect from ourselves.

@Telfordfan asks via Twitter: What is happening in regards to a striker being signed? We need a replacement for Ryan Griffiths.

RM: We-re still working through the process of signing a player to complement our attacking options at the moment, and we-re hopeful of having a signing to announce in the near future.

@Tommyjet262 asks via Twitter: Will the club look at getting a scout? Gary van Egmond seems to struggle at finding good overseas talent?

RM: It has always been a difficult challenge for Clubs to find imports who are able to adapt to the lifestyle and the type of football we play here in Australia.

There have been some exceptional foreign players play in the A-League, but there have also been a number who haven-t performed as expected. Our football department will continue to utilise its overseas contacts to monitor foreign players and we-ll continue to strive to get the best foreign players that become available.

WM asks via email: The team looks like its shaping up nicely, but with all the other clubs showing movement in their rosters for the up and coming season. When are we Jets fans going to hear about who the Jets are looking at to fill the last few players in our roster?

RM: The priority for the football staff was always to secure an attacking option and as I said earlier, hopefully we will be able to have that position finalised in the near future.

In defence at the moment we have Taylor Regan who has been doing very well in pre-season, Connor Chapman who is returning from the U-20 World Cup and All Stars game, Josh Mitchell who is on the way back from injury and Sam Gallaway who is versatile across the backline. In saying that, we-ll continue to look at options for the centre-back position.

Owen Blackwood asks via email: Are you surprised to see Joel Griffiths leave Sydney FC and go back to China?

RM: Now that Australia is part of Asia, players will always look at options in that region because of the wages they can demand, especially players looking for financial security towards the back end of their career. Because football is the world game, we-ll always be competing with overseas Clubs for talented players.

I think the stronger the A-League gets and the potential of more money coming into the game, we should hopefully be able to keep players here for longer.

Thank you for all your Jets Insider questions. Make sure you follow @NewcastleJetsFC on Twitter to find out who will be answering questions from the Club's Members and supporters next week.