Middleby: Club on the right path

Robbie Middleby believes the calibre of footballers wanting to play for the Jets is the ultimate compliment for the Club.

Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets CEO Robbie Middleby believes the number of quality players wanting to join the Jets and the willingness shown by others not to leave Club is the ultimate compliment for the direction the Club is headed.

Today newcastlejets.com.au sat down with the man at the helm to discuss the season ahead.

Q: The off-season has been an interesting time for the Jets, it must be exciting that pre-season commences on Monday?

RM: It certainly has been an off-season we couldn-t have foreseen. In saying that, we understand and support the Hunter Sports Group-s decisions and appreciate their renewed support of the Club.

We are of course, looking forward to pre-season, welcoming our new players and starting training to put us in good stead for the new season.

Q: Can you take a positive out of the whole experience?

RM: You can. The town united and showed that football matters to the people of Newcastle.

I think in the end, most fans realised that Nathan Tinkler originally stepped in and saved the Club, confronted Frank Lowy when he felt he and the Club had been wronged and in the end had the FFA resolve the crisis to ensure the Jets have never been stronger.

More importantly, many of the problems in the A-League are being corrected and the game in Australia is much stronger because of Nathan Tinkler.

The Hunter region has a rich football history and the support we received from the Club-s members and supporters showed just how ingrained football is in the community here.

That passion and commitment is why we had the second largest membership base and third highest average attendance in the A-League last season and why the Club will continue to grow.

Q: A number of players from last season-s squad have left the Club, are these decisions difficult to make?

RM: Of course they are. However, the fact that those players have shown they are prepared to wait in the hope the Jets will offer them a contract, I believe is the ultimate compliment for what we-re doing here.

Even those who were told they wouldn-t be offered a new contract held on to a glimmer of hope that they would get an opportunity to stay at the Jets.

If players are reluctant to leave the Jets, I think it shows that Club is on the right path. It-s a credit to the culture we-re building and all the things Newcastle has to offer.

Q: Is this the case with the report about Labinot Haliti in today-s local paper?

RM: Midway through the 2011/12 A-League season we met with Labinot to inform him he wasn-t in our plans going forward.

The reason we did that was to give him every chance to find another club, because he is a great individual and deserved the respect of being told as early as possible.

It disappoints me when personal issues like this are aired in the media without the full details being unveiled, however I take it as a massive compliment to our Club that Labinot and many others have not wanted to move on and simply wanted to stay with the Jets.

No club nor its players or coaching staff could receive a greater compliment.

Q: The Jets have already been busy during the off-season, identifying and recruiting a number of Australia-s brightest football prospects. You-ve already added Australian youth internationals James Brown, Mark Birighitti, Joshua Brillante, Craig Goodwin, Scott Neville, Mitchell Oxborrow and Adam Taggart to the squad. How excited are you by these signings?

RM: We-ve assembled a group that contains some of the best young footballers in the country.

We have 12 contracted players who have represented Australia at either under 17-s, under 20-s or under 23-s level in the past 12 months. A number of these players will have an instant chemistry having already played together for the various national teams.

Also, the fact that these stars of the future are so eager to come to Newcastle to be a part of the Jets shows how highly regarded the Club is in playing circles. They can see the Club has a bright future and that is certainly a vision we share.

Q: Why do you think that players of this calibre are so eager to join the Jets?

RM: They see the potential that the Club has. We-re developing a good culture here and we have great a playing, coaching and backroom staff.

On top of this we have excellent training facilities, a great stadium and the second largest membership base in the A-League, so they know they will be playing in front of passionate supporters each week.

It-s no wonder so many players are enthusiastic about playing here.

Thank you Robbie for this insight into the Club and we look forward to a big year for the Jets in 2012/13.