MARTIN Lee has joined Con Constantine and Nathan Tinkler on the scrapheap after being unceremoniously punted as Newcastle Jets owner on Monday.
Lee, the Chinese businessman who bought the Jets in June, 2016, and spent an estimated $15 million bankrolling Newcastle's A-League franchise, had his licence revoked after he was unable, or unwilling, to deal with the club's spiralling financial liabilities.
A new entity, funded by the newly formed Australian Professional Leagues - a collective group created by A-League owners to run the elite domestic competitions - will replace Lee for an indefinite interim period in the hope that a long-term owner will emerge.
Football Australia, in conjunction with APL, announced on Monday "the immediate termination of the A-League and Westfield W-League licence held by Newcastle Jets Club Pty Limited (ACN 602 270 664)".
The statement said the termination was "based on the entity's failure to pay its debts as and when they were due, which placed it in material breach of the Club Participation Agreement".
It did not specify how much money the Jets owed, but it is understood to be several million dollars, mostly to the Australian Tax Office.
Football Australia CEO James Johnson said Lee had "been given every opportunity to rectify the club's financial situation and continue as the owner and operator of the licence or to sell the club to another investor.
"The company's concurrent financial position however, left no other choice but to terminate the licence."
Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna revealed recently that Lee had not "put one penny into the club" since October 2019.
Johnson said there were "clear failings to adequately capitalise Newcastle Jets FC to meet the minimum requirements set to run an A-League and Westfield W-League club, and to operate a company in accordance with Australian law".
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The new owners moved quickly to appoint Shane Mattiske, a former NRL general manager of strategic projects who in 2012 was acting CEO for the 13-man code, as executive chairman.
"It's not a short-term commitment," Mattiske said.
"Now that they [APL] have made this commitment, they can put the club in a position where, in time, they can start to look at whether there are interested parties who would like to become involved in ownership of the club moving forward.
"The first thing was just making sure the club is secure, and that's what has happened today ... we do understand that there are interested parties.
"But the immediate focus was making sure that the cloud surrounding the club's future was removed. That's happened, and it's a very positive step."
He said the consortium intended to invest in the club "and make sure it has the resources it needs to succeed".
APL are eager to retain incumbent CEO McKinna, although his situation is understood to be complicated because he was a director of the company Lee formed to buy the Jets.
"We'd love to have Lawrie involved," Mattiske said.
Mattiske said APL recognised that the Jets had "untapped potential" and were confident the Novocastrian faithful would rally behind their team.
"There is no question that the future success of the Jets will rely heavily on the support of the local community and I look forward to working closely with the many passionate supporters of this great club," he said.
"The club needs all its supporters to stand up and strongly get behind their team. We thank all those that have supported the club through the recent period of uncertainty."
To encourage a healthy turnout on Friday, when the Jets are at home against Sydney FC in the W-League (4.35pm) and Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League (7.05pm), ticket prices have been discounted to $10 for adults and $5 for juniors or concessions.