Newcastle Jets owner and chairman Nathan Tinkler has pledged his long-term commitment to the club and given a rare insight into his interest in football.
The 39-year-old could be seen mixing with the home fans during Newcastle's agonising 4-3 defeat to Sydney FC at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.
Speaking to Fox Sports' Kick Off program after the match Tinkler acknowledged it had been a difficult campaign for his club but was confident in the direction they were now heading.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone involved with the Jets unfortunately. We’ve made some hard decisions for the longer term good of the club,” said Tinkler.
“I got involved with the Squadron, as I did when they opened the gates because we’re all on the same team at the end of the day.
“We all want the Newcastle Jets to be better and more competitive and I feel like we’ve made a big impression over the second-half of the season.”
While some football sceptics took to social media to question the motive of Tinkler's presence in home supporter's bay there was no doubt he was embraced by the fans he encountered.
Tinkler assured viewers that while he is relatively new to football his heart was in the right place when it came to supporting the club and the region.
“I've always been about this Newcastle and Hunter community. I've always thought it deserved better than what it's got and I want to try help it win," he said.
“I've got a coach there now that's helping us change the culture and you can see that on the paddock tonight.”
Attending his first Jets home game the laconic businessman defended his support of the club to date declaring he had been working feverishly on the Jets' future.
“I've been like a duck in the pond. I've been calm on top of the water and pedalling like nothing else under it, trying to help this club get stabilised,” said Tinkler.
“We inherited something that was in a little worse shape than I thought it was and we've done the best we can for the second half of the season.”
In outlining his vision for the future Tinkler drew a comparison between the A-League and MLS. He went on to say the often maligned local club owners were working in the game's best interests and that he was ready to embrace the challenges that lie ahead.
“The A-League compares very similarly to where the MLS was four or five ago in that you have a bunch of creative innovators as owners working with a league that wants to progress,” he said.
“I think the one thing that all the A-League chairman have in common is that we want to grow the league. We want to be more competitive and we want to raise the standard of soccer in Australia.
“For four years I've probably been fed soccer on an intravenous drip and it's fair to say it's now in my blood.”