Ugly exit: Jets’ not-so-subtle dig at departing star
Leading scorer Roy O'Donovan will sever ties with Newcastle, after talks over a new deal broke down amid acrimony on both sides.
The club withdrew its offer of a new contract, saying they had done "everything within reason to extend his stay", while O'Donovan's agent refuted the Jets' claim that they had made the striker "a generous offer" to stay.
Literally half of the A-League is now likely to beat a path to O'Donovan's door, with Western Sydney, Western United, Adelaide and Brisbane all at the start of significant recruitment drives.
The Mariners are also interested in re-signing a player they originally brought to the A-League, though their playing budget remains the smallest in the competition.
Months of talks between O'Donovan and the Jets over a new deal came to an acrimonious halt on Monday, and Newcastle did not hide their frustration in a media release that noted O'Donovan had "missed a total of 12 matches through suspensions, in addition to fixtures missed through injury".
The striker received a 10-game ban for elbowing Sydney defender Jordy Buijs, and a far more severe 10-match suspension for his head-high challenge on Melbourne Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas in last year's grand final.
As a result he missed the first eight rounds of this season - the first two games of the ban being served in the FFA Cup - but still managed to score 11 goals in the remaining 19 games.
"We made a number of generous offers to Roy and his management," said Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna.
"Talks began [about re-signing] midway through the season, with serious discussions beginning about two months ago."
"As Ernie (Merrick), Joel (Griffiths) and myself said from the beginning we wanted to keep Roy and did everything within reason to extend his stay in Newcastle.
"We were close on a number of occasions, but unfortunately from our perspective the goal posts continued to shift.
"It was disappointing as the Club has stood by and supported him through some difficult circumstances."
However O'Donovan's agent, Paddy Dominguez, demurred from McKinna's description of the contract put on the table.
"Newcastle never made Roy a 'generous offer' - had they done so he'd still be a Newcastle player," Dominguez said.
"In fact they asked Roy to take a pay cut, because of the club's well-documented financial situation, and he agreed to do so for the good of the club.
"But there was a significant difference in the terms and conditions, we couldn't reach agreement and that's football. He has to move on, it's as simple as that."
Dominguez said he was surprised at the Jet's reference to standing by O'Donovan during his ban, adding: "It's a club's job to stand by a player. But nonetheless we wish them all the best next season, Roy will retain some very happy memories from his time there."