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Chinese interest

FFA has sent detailed information about the Jets to prospective buyers. CHINESE lighting magnate Martin Lee has emerged asthe man most likely to take over the Newcastle Jets.

TheNewcastle Herald reported last month that a Chinese millionairehad met with FFA and inspectedHunter Stadium and facilities at the Jets’training base.

Thatbusinessmanis Lee,president and chief executive ofLedman Optoelectronic, aleading LED manufacturer in China.Heowns a lower-division team in his homeland,and his company sponsors the top two leaguesin China and also supports women’s football.

InJanuary, the Ledman Groupwasannounced as naming-rights sponsor of the Portuguese second division.

Initially the agreementrequired clubs to have a quota of development playersfrom China,butthat condition was withdrawn after opposition from the Portugal players union.

Since his initialvisit to Newcastle,Lee has returned totheregionand attended a Jets game.

The FFA said on Monday thattalks hadprogressed with several parties.

“FFA’s consultants UBS have issued an information memorandum on the Jets to a number of interested parties in the last fortnight on a confidential basis,”an FFA spokesperson said.

“Those parties should have enough initial information to form a view on the value and merits of the opportunity to invest in the A-League and the Newcastle region.It’s envisaged that the next steps will include discussions on the business model and indicative offers to buy the Newcastle Jets licence.”

The FFA assumed ownership of the Jets in May after revoking thelicence of Nathan Tinkler.

A newownerappeared imminent in Septemberwhen aconsortium,headed byDundee United chairman Stephen Thompson,had agreed to “broad terms of the sale” only for talksto break down.

FFA engaged UBS Bank in November to broker a sale, with an asking price of about $5 million.

Mike Ashley, the owner ofEnglish Premier League club Newcastle United, was on Monday linked to the Jets, but it is understood that talks with other parties are more advanced.

Ashley’s business model at Newcastle, basedon buying and selling players, hasmade him very unpopular with fans in the UKand would appear at odds with the communitymodel preferred by theFFA.

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