Long-time Central Coast Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth has today announced plans to put Gosford-based club on the market.
What this means for the club’s future is not clear. While the club’s preference is to stay on the Central Coast, there is the possibility a new owner will seek to relocate.
If a new investor cannot be sourced, Charlesworth will hand the club’s license over to FFA.
“After ten years of involvement with the Mariners, I feel the time is right for me to now step aside and to look for a new investor to take on the ownership of the club,” Charlesworth said.
The Englishman first invested in the Gosford-based side over ten years ago and has held a majority stake since 2013. He tasted immediate success as owner, winning a championship that season.
But since then, the Mariners have struggled to remain competitive.
Charlesworth hanging the for sale sign is a move Mariners fans have been calling for after years of underachievement. Despite last night’s win over Melbourne Victory, the club’s fourth last-place finish in five years was confirmed.
Charlesworth admitted the Mariners require more funds to compete in the A-League.
“We’ve struggled in recent years through a lack of investment, now is the time someone must be found to drive it forward,” Charlesworth told The World Game.
The owner had been looking for investors to take over the club since earlier this year, but complications stemming from COVID-19 dried up the market.
Charlesworth conceded it had become difficult to stay in touch with day-to-day club matters from the other side of the world. He now has an idea of what kind of ownership he would like to see succeed him to secure the club’s future.
“Ideally, we’ll find the right investors and a local chairman who have the best interests of the club at heart.”
In the wake of the news, Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp has called on fans to stay patient while the process to find new investment continues.
“Stay strong, Mariners fans. This is a daunting but hopefully exciting part of our wonderful history,” Mielekamp tweeted.
Relieving win last night a reward for hard work, professionalism and mental toughness in crazy times last night. Emphasised by the news that Mike has decided to depart the club. Stay strong Mariners fans this is a daunting but hopefully exciting part of our wonderful history.
— Shaun Mielekamp (@SMielekamp) August 3, 2020
It will be a long off-season for Mariners fans with the club’s future again up in the air. The club will return to action when the amended 2020-21 A-League season kicks off in December.