THE Newcastle Jets will not have a marquee player next season and other operational costs will be streamlined in a bid to make the club a break-even enterprise and ensure its sustainability.
As well as tighten the belt, the A-League club hopes to again increase membership and sponsorship by extending its strong community programs.
There has been mounting speculation over the future of the Jets under owner Martin Lee, who has put $15 million into the club in three years.
Jets chief executive Lawrie McKinna insists that the Chinese businessman, although open to selling a percentage of the club, remains committed long-term, but is not prepared to lose millions of dollars each season.
"We need to respect that Martin has put in $15 million and saved the club," McKinna said. "He wants to continue. If we can break even, he is very comfortable to keep the club. It is like any business.
"If we can manage the budget, we are in a good space with being able to look after ourselves. Then we don't need to go cap in hand."
Trade tariffs between the United States and China has had a major impact on Lee's fortunes with his LED lighting company Ledman Group suffering a severe downturn.
The Chinese government have also put in place restrictions on money being transferred out of the country.
The Jets will lose about $2.2 million this season, below the $2.5 million which had been projected.
"Our losses are down, but we still have a way to go," McKinna said. "We need the support of the fans. We have more than doubled sponsorship in three years. To break even, we have to get more. There are also little tweaks to the way we can do things. If you add them all up, it makes a big difference.
"The community needs to stick with us. I'm a Glasgow Rangers fan and when Rangers were relegated to the fourth division, the first home crowd was 49,000 fans.
"Players, coaches, CEOs, football managers all come and go. The most important thing is the club.
"The reasons we are cutting the budget this year are, one, Martin can't get the money out of China, and, two, we want the club to be here in 100 years time."
Next season, the Jets will operate under the league's $3.2 million salary cap, which Football Federation Australia covers through a grant financed by the broadcast deal.
The Jets spent about $1 million above the cap with the use of concessions this season, which was essentially the salaries of marquee midfielder Ronny Vargas and fellow South American Jair.
They have 19 players contracted for 2019-20, including exciting prospect Matt Millar, and have about $500,000 of the cap available.
Coach Ernie Merrick is likely to go with a squad of 21, two under the maximum 23, and the Newcastle Herald understands they are in preliminary talks with a high-profile striker.
"We will be operating under the salary cap and we are confident of having a squad that is very, very competitive," McKinna said. "We have the core of the squad signed with room still to freshen it up with a couple of quality players."
After making the grand final in 2018, the Jets finished seventh this season.
Membership and sponsorship were up but McKinna attributed the increases to the club's community programs more so than the on-field success the previous year.
"Last season, through the Newcastle University we did a study in conjunction with Borussia Dortmund and a university in Germany," McKinna said. "They conducted two on-line surveys with 1200 participants. They also surveyed members on match day and some key stakeholders. The biggest thing that came out of the study was the importance of community work and being part of the community. In terms of sponsors, having strong community involvement is more attractive than success on the park.
"For the first home game this season we had 9000 members signed. We are now at 11,700 members. The results may not have been as good as the year before but we gained 2700 members. When you tie that in with the research undertaken by the university it shows that we are embedded in the community. We have two people looking after community activities, Daniel McBreen and Cassidy Davis, because of the demand. We will be running out more community initiatives next season."
The Jets players broke on Friday for their end-of-season holiday and will assemble for pre-season training on July 1.