Branko signs with Jets

Newcastle has snared former Sydney FC coach Branko Culina as its new Technical Director in a significant boost for this year's wooden-spoon winners.

Newcastle has snared former Sydney FC coach Branko Culina as its new Technical Director in a significant boost for this year's wooden-spoon winners.

Culina, one of the most experienced and well-regarded coaches in Australia has accepted an offer to join the Jets, working current coach alongside Gary van Egmond, who guided the Jets to the Hyundai A-League Championship in 2007/08.

Culina's arrival helps the Jets offset the loss of Ian Crook, who has taken up a post at Norwich City in the English championship. The club said it was a shot in the arm ahead of the 2009 Asian champions League campaign.

"We see Branko as someone who can certainly add a high level of experience, professionalism, and expertise to our club," Chief Executive Officer John Tsatsimas said.

"Obviously we have ambitions not only to ensure that every possible measure is undertaken in this upcoming AFC Champions League campaign, but also looking to the future his experience in general is a very valuable asset."

"After the recent departure of Ian Crook from our ranks it was important that we acted swiftly in getting the appropriate backroom support required to move into Asia in a positive manner. Certainly Branko's experience in this field is invaluable for our club, and we look forward to working with him for this upcoming campaign," he said.

Culina coached Melbourne Knights, Sydney United and Sydney Olympic in the old NSL, while he played for Melbourne Knights, Sydney United, Blacktown City Demons, and St. Albans Saints.

He was in charge of Sydney when it played in the Asian champions League two years ago.