With the A-League squad returning to Ray Watt Oval for pre-season training today, there are a number of questions which persist around the make-up of the squad for the upcoming season and the search for a new Head Coach.
Here’s what CEO, Lawrie McKinna had to say.
On Steven Ugarkovic and Bernie Ibini:
“Both players are contracted. They’re contracted until the end of the season, and we’re expecting them to fulfil their contracts. Simple as that.
“I’ve spoken to the PFA, [they’re] on our side. They fight for the best conditions possible for the players, and players have to adhere to their contracts.
“I’m comfortable with that, we’ve done everything right, boys have been paid in full and there’s been no breach of contract. The players are contracted.”
On player departures:
“Decisions we have made as a Club over the past months have been to make sure that the Club is still operating.
“An offer came to the Club [for the sale of Dimi Petratos] to ensure the doors of this Club remain open, that’s the reason he went.
“James Donachie, great player, but Lachie Jackson is back from injury in December/January so there’s plenty of cover. Can we offset him and offset his wages at this time? We can.
“Fitzy asked us for the chance to move to India, he gets a wee bit more money and we get a bit of money out of it as well. Can we spend his money for his wages in a better position? We can.
“As a business decision, great move for us to offset [wages] because we’ve continued to pay the wages of players and staff. We’ve cut down our budget on the squad to pursue the best outcomes for the Club in the long run.
“We’ve not went through all this off-season, coming back to play, because months and months ago we could’ve pulled the plug and moved the licence elsewhere. But we’re not interested. We’re interested in the Club being here [in Newcastle], starting next A-League season with as strong a squad as possible.”
On the search for a Head Coach:
“For the next few weeks, we don’t have a coach because that’s dictated by the ownership of the Club. Myself, [Craig Deans], Joel [Griffiths] and Daniel McBreen will be mucking in at training.
“We’re down to more than a couple [of coaches] on the shortlist. We’ll not get a foreign coach, definitely not. It’s too hard to get them in, especially if they’ve got families.
“It’s not necessarily an experienced Ernie Merrick that you might have coming in, but what’s experience? Is it coaching, assistant coach at an A-League club for many years?
“There’s a lot of interest out there from coaches who have experience, but maybe not as a Head Coach.”