HAWAIIAN businessman Jeff Von Schmauder has no doubts that the Newcastle Jets can be a success.
But the land developer insists it is going to take community input rather than someone simply waving a cheque for the club to fulfil its potential.
Von Schmauder is part of an American consortium interested in buying the Jets.
“I want this to be a fresh start and a community-built organisation,” said Von Schmauder, who was born in Germany and raised in Maui. “Coming from the islands of Hawaii, we have a strong sense of community there and that is how our businesses work. It is the same kind of thing here. Newcastle has a culture and community of its own and that needs to be preserved and also recognised. It isn’t about someone coming in from overseas and telling everyone how it is done. We will have local leadership, local business people, local community stakeholders involved in this team. That is how it has to go.”
Von Schmauder splits his time between Maui and Blue Bay on the Central Coast and is the managing director of Terrafirmaworld.com. As well as own the land development company Von Schmauder said he had real estate holdings in Hawaii and “other sporting interests in the US”.
Von Schmauder’s consortium is one of six parties to receive an information memorandum on the Jets sale.
“I am in the due diligence process as we speak,” he said. “The next step for me is to sit down with the management of FFA and [chairman] Steven Lowy. It’s important that there is a strong relationship from the ground up with the FFA as well as the team and the local community. It is really important that all those pieces fit. If those align and they are compatible, I feel confident that things will move forward.”
Von Schmauder, who will be at Hunter Stadium on Saturday for the Jets’ clash with Perth Glory, said he was attracted to the Newcastle area and wanted to “help the community grow”.
Chinese business Martin Lee met with the FFA this week and is the most advanced of the potential buyers but is understood to have balked at the asking price, which is believed to more than the initial $5 million figure.
The FFA assumed ownership of the Jets in May after revoking the licence of Nathan Tinkler. A new owner appeared imminent in September when a consortium, headed by Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson, agreed to “broad terms of the sale”.
The governing body is set to lose $2.4 million on the Jets this season but said “there’s no time frame set for a conclusion to the sale process.”