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A-League Jets to get Chinese owner

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Newcastle are about to come off Football Federation Australia’s books, with the A-League club’s long-anticipated sale to millionaire Chinese businessman Martin Lee set to be announced on Tuesday.

Former Central Coast coach Lawrie McKinna, the Gosford mayor, is poised to be named as new Jets CEO, taking over from interim CEO David Eland.

Lee’s Ledman Group, a major LED lighting manufacturer, has been in negotiations with FFA for months and spent recent weeks conducting due diligence.

The sale, understood to be worth more than $5 million, marks the first major Chinese investment in the A-League.

Ledman already has an extensive football investment portfolio as owner of Chinese lower-tier club Shenzhen Renren FC, sponsor of the Chinese Super League and naming-rights sponsor for Portugal’s second division.

From FFA’s perspective, it makes Lee a reliable choice to grow the Hunter franchise it rescued from ruin a year ago.

The governing body has spent millions keeping the Jets afloat since last May, when it stripped former owner Nathan Tinkler of his A-League licence after he placed the club into administration.

The sale also comes at a welcome time for FFA as it again deals with financial insecurity around Brisbane Roar.

The Jets have numerous vacancies remaining on their roster, including two visa spots, with the club and coach Scott Miller opting to wait for input from a new owner before filling them.

© 2016 The Roar | This article was written by AAP and first appeared on The Roar on 13 June 2016.

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