Exclusive: The former company of the Newcastle Jets has been liquidated with staggering debts of nearly $13 million, with creditors expected to have little hope of receiving the money that is owed to them.
According to documents listed with ASIC, the Jets were wound up with debts totaling $12.927 million, including $8.598 million allegedly owed to former owner Martin Lee, as well as $2 million to the Australian Tax Office.
But there are close to 70 other creditors owed money, including current and past employees of the club such as coach Carl Robinson and assistant coach Kenny Miller.
Robinson and Miller, who quit the Jets in October to join A-League rivals Western Sydney Wanderers, are said to be owed $17,809.88 and $24,886.66 respectively, while former Newcastle midfielder and Socceroo Dimitri Petratos, who signed for Saudi outfit Al-Wehda in August, is owed $3,175.
Other creditors include the Professional Footballers Association, Football Australia (FA), Football NSW, Venues NSW, Northern NSW Football, new Jets head coach Craig Deans, a host other staff and several small, local businesses.
Lee’s A-League and W-League licence was terminated by FA and Australian Professional Leagues in January and was handed to a consortium of A-League club investors to take control, with a new company established.
The new company has no commitment or contractual liability to service the former company’s debts.
It is understood that creditors of Martin Lee's company almost certainly won't see a cent.
“At this stage, based on our preliminary investigations to date, it is unlikely that creditors will receive a dividend,” a spokesperson for the liquidator Shaw Gidley said.
“We will advise creditors within three months of our appointment as to the likelihood of a dividend.”
It is believed Lee stopped pumping money into the Jets in October 2019, but club management worked to keep the club afloat while a new owner was sought.
Now auditors are examining if the club was operating while insolvent.
“Whether the company traded whilst insolvent is subject to ongoing investigations and will be reported to creditors in due course,” the Shaw Gildey spokesperson said.
Former NRL executive Shane Mattiske was appointed as executive chairman of the Jets in January and is now running the club.
"We understand that there are some debts that Martin Lee’s entity incurred, and those debts are being worked through by the liquidator,” Mattiske said.
“We’re watching that. But we are focused on making sure the club’s best positioned for a sustainable business model moving forward.
“We want to work with people who have supported the club, and there’s a lot of people who have supported the club and really gone out of their way to come together and get behind the club. As soon as the liquidator’s position is confirmed we want to engage with these suppliers and we want them to be part of our future."