Sth Coast won't 'climb dead bodies' for A-League

FOOTBALL

Nathan Tinkler has one less thing to worry about - a Wollongong consortium won't be clamouring for an A-League licence at the expense of his debt-ridden Newcastle Jets.

Football South Coast chairman Eddy De Gabriele poured cold water on the suggestion his organisation could make an opportunistic play for an A-League berth, despite Tinkler's financial freefall.

The Australian Tax Office yesterday moved to wind up Tinkler's troubled Hunter Sports Group (HSG), the parent company of the Jets and Newcastle Knights, over unpaid debts of $2.7 million.

MORE: Tax office eyes Tinkler teams

But De Gabriele re-affirmed his position that the Jets were integral to the long-term viability of regional football, refusing to pitch for A-League inclusion should the franchise fold.

"I don't want to be seen as Football South Coast climbing over dead bodies of other regional bodies to make a regional impression," he said.

"We need to maintain our integrity.

"You can't have things thrust upon you in a regional community because we don't have the capacity capital cities have," he said.

"If we really subscribe to a regional football strategy then Wollongong should support Newcastle to ensure it maintains its position."

De Gabriele hinted a Wollongong A-League franchise remained a "medium-term" goal after failed attempts in the past.

On the issue of football in the region having a national presence, De Gabriele said: "Our immediate bid is for a W-League and a National Youth League.

"That gives a pathway to go to the top of the women's league and the top of the men's league through the youth league. The youth league will give us an investment bank.

"If we can create an investment bank all the other clubs will want to buy our young players and that creates a lot of interest for us. That's short term [the goal]."

Football Federation Australia released a short statement yesterday saying it had been given assurances by HSG the club's operations would not be affected.

A spokesperson for HSG said it was surprised by the ATO's actions, claiming "any outstanding sum will be paid as soon as possible".

Labelling Tinkler's private ownership model a "high risk" one, De Gabriele suggested stunted Wollongong A-League bids in the past had been built on the right model.

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