Mariners boss vows to settle super debt to avoid player exodus

Central Coast Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth insists the club has "possibly never been in better financial shape" amid reports that up to five players could seek to have their contracts terminated in January over unpaid superannuation.


Roar players will be expecting a galvanised mariners side ahead of their A-League clash on Sunday. Source: Getty Images

Charlesworth is adamant that any “historical debts” will be “worked through in a timely manner” after Fairfax reported that Professional Footballers Australia had put the club on notice over the overdue payments.

Under the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement players are free to quit any A-League club mid-contract if statutory obligations are not met.

However Charlesworth, who said the newspaper reports were the first he had heard of any issue involving disgruntled players wanting out, declared: “The overall position of the club is brighter than it's possibly ever been now we are working towards a sustainable long-term business plan.    

"Only two to three years ago the club was over $6 million in the red and there were no guarantees around the construction of our Centre Of Excellence, where work had ceased becase of considerable debt.

"More worryingly, there were no assurances from the FFA that they would support a club in Gosford long term.

"The Mariners were living far beyond their means and had no sustainable future … we're now probably more viable than ever.

"If there are historical debts that need to be addressed then they will be worked through."

Charlesworth said the club would not risk losing top talent.

"The Mariners have invested a lot of time and energy in grooming young players, who one day may be sold on to Europe and these issues over superannuation will be addressed," he insisted.

"We are certainly not going to be in the business of letting any of our best young players leave the club."

The crisis would most likely hit their younger, lesser paid players, who could become the target of rival clubs.

Young guns Anthony Caceres, Liam Rose, Mitch Austin and Anthony Kalik would attract interest from rivals clubs were they free to leave, as would right-back Storm Roux.

The news comes just days after goalkeeper Liam Reddy was released by the Mariners, while defender Eddy Bosnar was cut by the club last month after falling out with coach Tony Walmsley.

The Mariners aren't the first club to be embroiled in such a scandal.

Brisbane Roar lost Socceroos midfielder Luke Brattan in August after they failed to pay their players and staff throughout the last off-season.

Newcastle Jets players and staff members also missed payments three times earlier this year during a period of mismanagement under previous owner Nathan Tinkler.

However, Charlesworth pointed to the off-the-field moves desgined to keep the club afloat.

"We are about to open the next phase of the Centre of Excellence, which will become the envy of the A League, but we still do have a few issues that clearly need addressing," he added.

"There is no point building a house out of straw and anyone travelling through Tuggerah can see for themselves what's going on now (in terms of development)."

The Mariners are propping up the A-League ladder with just five points this season, and just a single victory as coach Walmsley persists with a youthful squad committed to attack at all costs.

Despite a winless streak stretching back nine games, Charlesworth continues to back Walmsley’s adventurous approach.

“This is a learning curve for some talented young players and I am expecting they will get stronger as the season progresses," he said.

"We are all hurting from the recent results ... no more than me. But we need to stay together as a club and realise that what we are doing is the best for the long term,.

"The team are playing the right way and hopefully, in time, the results will come also."

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4 min read
Published 16 December 2015 at 3:16am
By David Lewis