EnergyAustralia Stadium pitch forces postponement
The appalling condition of the pitch at Newcastle's EnergyAustralia Stadium has forced the postponement of Wednesday night's A-League clash between the Jets and Fury and has cast a shadow over David Beckham's $2 million visit to the Hunter Valley next month.
The Newcastle Knights are being blamed after a supercross event left EnergyAustralia Stadium needing $500,000 in emergency funding from the NSW Government to fix the playing surface. The ground has been deemed unsafe to play on by Football Federation Australia.
Stadium officials didn't want the public to see photos of the stadium's surface, but The Daily Telegraph secured access to the venue and the images show the full extent of the damage, with the ground looking like a watery cow paddock. Stadium officials had even painted over some of the damaged area.
The taxpayer-owned stadium is currently managed by the Newcastle Knights Rugby League Club. There has been a long-running battle between the co-tenants with the Jets claiming they have an ordinary stadium deal which has placed financial pressure on the club. There have also been calls to set-up a new management arrangement for the venue.
Minister for Tourism and the Hunter Jodi McKay said last night "the situation is completely unacceptable and it reinforces the need for a new management agreement for our region's sporting stadium".
"It is simply unbelievable that the Newcastle Knights have also put in jeopardy Sunday night's match between the Jets and Melbourne Heart and the November 27 game between the Jets and the LA Galaxy.
"I have indicated to the Minister for Sport and Recreation that I expect the Knights to be billed for the full cost of the turf repairs."
The North Queensland Fury were only advised of the situation by the FFA on Tuesday when in transit between Brisbane and Newcastle that Wednesday's game wouldn't go ahead. Meanwhile Sunday's A-League match between the Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Heart is also unlikely to proceed.
It comes at an unfortunate time for the Newcastle club who are currently experiencing a rejuvenation period following the purchase of the club by one of Australia's richest men - Nathan Tinkler.
Prior to that the club was fighting for its future and has since experienced a growth in popularity with membership sign-ups, increased media exposure, a number of initiatives by the club, and the announcement of next month's international friendly against David Beckham's LA Galaxy.