JETS INSIDER - Robbie Middleby

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

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

Middleby speaks about his role as CEO, the Emerging Jets program and the effect of marquee signings in the A-League.

@danielrnorris asks via Twitter: Do you have any plans to encourage more big name signings by A-League clubs?

Robbie Middleby (RM): I think it-s an important factor at the moment while we-re still a developing country for football. As a national competition, the A-League is only seven years old.

If you look at the MLS in America, it is thriving now and they-ve brought over the likes of Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Robbie Keane who-ve all had a major effect over there.

Big name signings add to the interest of the competition and I think you can see that with TV audiences and crowds up. It-s not only great for the teams with the big name signing, but it-s great for all the other teams in the competition as well.

@DaveBriant96 asks via Twitter: Will there be any news in December about Joel Griffiths?

RM: Our roster is full at the moment, but Joel is someone who we-ll always be interested in talking to about his football future. We know he is important to a lot of our supporters and we respect that, but at this point in time we already have a full squad.

Brian Fletcher asks via email: Have you seen positive change within the FFA head office since the Jets- licence was handed back in April?

RM: Damien de Bohun has come in and we have a very, very strong relationship with him. Now with David Gallop coming in, I think the future is bright for the whole competition.

It-s been well documented that the A-League Clubs and the FFA still have quite a few hurdles to get over, but we-re definitely in a better position than we were.

@joshholt22 asks via Twitter: Any interest in bringing Ian Crook back to the Club now he is available?

RM: Ian Crook is a great coach and he-s done wonderful things in youth development. It-s an interesting one now that we have the Emerging Jets and where we sit with things in regards to that.

It-s such a big decision that Ian has just made so I-m sure it will take some time for him to decide what he wants to do.

William Kelper asks via email: Hi Robbie, can you talk us through your footballing background and how it has really gone full circle to see you become Jets CEO?

RM: I came through the system in Newcastle and as a youngster played my career at Valentine which is now the biggest Club in NNSW for juniors.

From there I played for Adamstown before I went to the Australian Institute of Sport and came back and played for the Newcastle Breakers and Newcastle United in the old NSL. I was very privileged to wear the captain-s armband as a proud Newcastle boy.

From there I played in Germany for three years before coming back to Australia and finishing my career at different Clubs around the country. I always felt Newcastle was home and I hope in my current role I-m able to give all the young footballers in our area a clear pathway to reach the top level.

@Buddha14 asks via Twitter: Robbie, will you bring a pre-season or regional game out to the Riverina? Wagga is the breeding ground for sport.

RM: We look at playing games in all regional areas, but in particular we focus on our area of Northern NSW.

We took a pre-season game to Tamworth and we-ll continue to look at opportunities like that, but we also need another A-League Club who is willing to promote the game in regional areas.

Barry Walter asks via email: The Jets have more yellow cards than any other Club in the A-League this season, are you concerned with the team-s discipline?

RM: It-s never good to have players getting yellow cards or being suspended, but you can look it two ways. The other side of it is that in a way it shows how competitive the players we have are and how passionate they are for the Club and the town.

@RickiiT asks via Twitter: Robbie, great job at the Jets, but when will we see NYL and W-League games played before the A-League?

RM: We-re playing a National Youth League game as a curtain raiser for home game against the Central Coast Mariners on December 8.

It doesn-t happen more frequently because of the difficulties surround timing and scheduling issues. There are a lot of factors that come into it with the television broadcast and what time the curtain-raiser matches have to be finished by.

It would be great to see all three teams play on the one day, but with the regulations at the moment, it-s a difficult one to do. We-ll continue to work with the Stadium and the FFA to figure out the logistics around it.

Maria Griffiths ask via email: It hasn't been so long since you hung up your boots. How does the life of a CEO compare to those days on the park?

RM: It-s only been three years, but it feels like a long time ago! I-m thoroughly enjoying it. I know I-ve got a big responsibility but I feel like we-re going in the right direction as a Club.

A lot of ex-players do find it a bit hard after they finish their football careers, but for me, this is the right role and I don-t feel like playing at all.

Ivan Hecimovic asks via email: Last year it was announced that 90% of the Jets Youth squad would be made up of local talent. With the influx of a few players from the AIS during the NBN State League season and more recently players from the Sydney area, it would seem that this policy no longer exists. Is this the case?

RM: Our policy will always remain that we would like to have as many local products as possible in our youth teams. That-s the whole reason why we-re investing a large amount of money and resources into the Emerging Jets program.

With the young A-League squad that we-ve assembled, it worked out that some of our players who were recruited from the AIS such as Connor Chapman and Mitchell Oxborrow, we-re able to get game time in the NBN State League competition purely because they were eligible to and it was beneficial for their development.

Ben Fitzgerald asks via email: Do the FFA regulate the goal netting in the A-League? Are the Jets able to change the colour of the goal netting to blue and red stripes so the TV audience are in no doubt the game is getting played at Hunter Stadium? This could be done to the corner posts as well to give the stadium even more character.

RM: The FFA regulates the goal netting across the A-League so that-s not a possibility at the moment.

For next week-s Jets Insider interview, Jets captain Jobe Wheelhouse will answer YOUR questions. Simply tweet your question using the #JetsInsider hashtag or send your question to communications@huntersportsgroup.com by COB Wednesday. Then check back in Jets Insider next week to see if your question is answered.