Mariners chief Charlesworth not tempted by Chinese owners

Central Coast Mariners chief Mike Charlesworth has revealed he turned down an approach to sell the club to the Ledman Group, paving the way for the Chinese company to instead splash $5 million on acquiring bitter rivals, Newcastle Jets.

Mariners

Central Coast Mariners players in their team huddle Source: Getty Images

The proposed sale was spruiked by inaugural Mariners coach-turned-Gosford mayor. and now Jets CEO, Lawrie McKinna, who was the Ledman Group’s man on the ground.

McKinna was tasked with identifying an A-League franchise for the Shenzhen-based high-tech LED signage manufacturer, to add to its football portfolio.

Had Charlesworth been tempted, McKinna, who coached the Mariners with distinction for five years before becoming football and commercial operations manager, would have returned as the CEO of his beloved club.

Advertisement


However, Charlesworth’s head was not turned by the offer, which came earlier this year, despite the widespread perception the Englishman might have been willing to divest himself of the club he rescued from bankruptcy two-and-a-half years ago.

"There was an approach from the Ledman group, which came through Lawrie," Charlesworth said.

"They wanted to get involved with a club and Lawrie asked whether we were interested in having a chat.

"But we weren’t interested and turned down the opportunity. 

Lawrie asked if we would be keen to talk with them as they were in the market to purchase an A-league club, but I wasn’t tempted in the slightest and they went on and bought the Jets.



"We didn’t even have a discussion about it (within the club) ... it was a case of thanks, but no thanks."

The approach was made before the Ledman group - and McKinna - turned their attentions to the Jets, who were in the hands of Football Federation Australia until the sale was concluded in June, in the wake of recalcitrant former owner Nathan Tinkler being stripped of his licence.

Charlesworth said he has no regrets over his stance in resisting the advances of Ledman Group.

However, it’s conceivable he could be persuaded to sell at some stage - although not in the foreseeable future.

It's likely he would take an approach from another City Football Group-type entity  far more seriously, should they emerge at some future date and seek to buy into the A-League.

Charlesworth has declared himself far more interested in completing the Mariners' much-heralded Tuggerah-based Centre of Excellence facility.

“My commitment is to build the best football training facility in Australia and once we have done that then I will have achieved what I want to have achieved," he said.

"It’s about securing financial stability for the club and its long term future."

With the new season under a month away, Charlesworth is looking forward to the impact that new coach Paul Okon – briefly a Jets player at the tail end of his stellar career - will have in helping recalibrate last season’s wooden spoonists.



"He will bring an exciting brand of football I am personally looking forward to it," he said.

"I wanted him from the start (after the sacking of Tony Walmsley).  

"He came recommended by a lot of people, including (Socceroos coach) Ange Postecoglou.

"He wants to play the same attacking style of football that he played himself, and I am looking forward to seeing what he delivers."


Share
Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
3 min read
Published 10 September 2016 at 10:03am
By Dave Lewis