EXCLUSIVE: Newcastle owner Con Constantine says negotiations with Chinese Champions Beijing Guoan for his star striker Joel Griffiths are not just about Newcastle Jets taking a stand, but the entire A-League.
Griffiths' agent John Denison of Entourage Management says he's confident a loan deal for the 30-year-old fringe Socceroo will happen, with Griffiths said to be keen to go.
Constantine, however, is digging in and determined to stick to his original deal with Beijing for a $1m transfer fee for the Jets marquee.
Constantine has now set a November 30 deadline for negotiations to be resolved - and if not, Griffiths will NOT be loaned out, but will instead return to help the Jets push up the A-League.
"It's only way you go forward in the A-League," Constantine told au.fourfourtwo.com today. "If we allow people to push us around from overseas then we should just call it quits because that's not the way to deal with them
"Look at the mega dollars players get overseas with transfer fees. All I'm saying is the figure we spoke about hasn't changed. We haven't moved the goalposts. If they say we'll pay a million, we'll send him back."
The voluble Jets owner argues Griffiths was bought with the purpose of building a team around him. Constantine says that makes him an even bigger loss.
"That was the purpose of having Joel in the first place," he said. "We allowed him to go on loan to Asia [to Beijing Guoan] for one season for $500,000.
"They asked us at that particular time if we would like to put something in writing about buying him out and they'll give us $1m. That was last season.
"Now, all of a sudden, they've had a change of heart, or whatever. They did win the grand final and they made a lot of money and good luck to them.
"The bottom line is his agent says they want him back on loan for another season. And I say, it's very hard for us because to replace Joel will cost me just as much as what I'd get back.
"Why would I want to do that? The boy's a high quality player. I'm not going to renege on the deal. No way.
"I gave them an undertaking for a million dollars and I'm not going to go back on that. But I can't loan him again for another season when we need him. It's not easy to replace him."
Constantine said he was happy with the style of play of Branko Culina's side after the first half of the season, but added to the chorus of concerns about goals. This was underlined again after they were unable to score in Sunday's 1-0 home loss to Wellington Phoenix.
"They play beautiful football but again it comes back to scoring goals," added Constantine. "That's football all over the world. If he's [Griffiths] back with us and he scores seven, eight nine goals for us, we would've been amongst the top three."
Griffiths, 30, is set to resume in early January after a ban imposed on him by the Chinese FA for allegedly making an obscene gesture to rival fans.
But with almost two months between competitive games, it's likely the Jets will not see the best of their talisman for at least the rest of January, leaving possibly just four games for him to make his mark.