Steven Ugarkovic will be a Western Sydney Wanderers player next season after agreeing on terms to rejoin former coach Carl Robinson and Newcastle Jets teammate Bernie Ibini at Bankwest Stadium.
The unsettled Jets midfield linchpin has made no secret of his desire to exit a club he believes are “heading in the wrong direction”.
And his management today revealed that while Ugarkovic, 26, will see out the season on the Hunter, he will wear the red and black beyond that after signing a one-year deal.
Ugarkovic has vowed to give his all in his remaining six months at the struggling club, but his agent, Jason Coorey of Sportius Global Corporation, is disappointed the club haven’t released him sooner.
“In the case of Bernie Ibini the club said publicly they didn’t want players who didn’t want to ‘wear the jersey’,” Coorey said.
“Bernie (after buying out the remainder of his contract) then joined Wanderers for this season.
“In Steven’s case, he told the club several months ago he was unhappy and informed them he wanted to leave.
“Steven has no quarrel with any individual but it’s hard to justify saying one thing publicly but only letting it apply selectively.
“Steven’s given five years of good service and will continue to do so while he’s there.
“But, the reality is, the club are going in the wrong direction. In fact, there is no direction.”
The capture of Ugarkovic - albeit for next season - underlines the ambition of the Wanderers, who have become a totem of derision for Jets fans who believe they are asset stripping their club.
“As Steven’s management company we have tried to make it a position that we could pursue Steven’s career in an amicable situation,” added Coorey.
“But, unfortunately, this has not been achievable.
“We’ve had no problems honouring the contract but certain things were conveyed to us on Steven signing which never happened.”
With just six months left on his Jets deal, Ugarkovic was free to enter into negotiations with other clubs.
“Moving forward, we believe it’s the best thing for Steven’s career to move on,” added Coorey.
Ugarkovic is hoping to force his way into Socceroos World Cup qualification calculations and believes Western Sydney are the right vehicle to drive those ambitions.
“The Wanderers are, in our opinion, a club pointing the right way, with good leadership and resources behind them,” continued Coorey.
“It’s a place where Steven can progress.
“That said, he will continue to give everything for the Jets and will be doing his utmost to go out in style.
“We wish the Jets the very best for the remainder of the season.”
News of Ugarkovic’s imminent departure to Western Sydney will add another jolt of electricity to an already highly-charged return to his old McDonald Jones Stadium stamping ground for Robinson on Friday evening.
Both teams are coming off 1-0 opening-round losses - Wanderers to Macarthur and the Jets to Central Coast.
Both Newcastle and Western Sydney were contacted for comment.