Mariners to continue playing home matches away from Gosford

Defiant Central Coast boss Mike Charlesworth remains committed to taking home games to Canberra and also North Sydney, despite on-going criticism from fans agitated by what they see as a misguided bid to build the club's supporter base.


The Mariners had a frustrating afternoon, losing to Wellington in Canberra. Source: Getty Images

Just 5497 turned up at Canberra Stadium in the nation's capital on Saturday to watch Wellington defeat Paul Okon's men 2-0 - around 3000 less than the club's projections.

And dissenting voices on social media and beyond have called into question the wisdom of taking games away from the Mariners' Gosford heartland, claiming it will only antagonize and isolate an already fragile fan base.

But Charlesworth sees little option but to persist with a policy he says is an important plank of plans to spread the Mariners' brand while bolstering the club's future sustainability.

"While the attendance was less than we'd hoped for, this is part of a long term strategy... it's not a matter of going in then out," explained Charlesworth.

With the Mariners scheduled to play a second 'home' game in Canberra against champions Adelaide on February 5, Charlesworth added: "We are committed to building a fan base, with the support of the association down there.

"It's part of a core strategy which also includes north Sydney.

"We are still doing a lot of ground work there... we need to think further afield in terms of increasing our fan base."

Charlesworth contends that with the Central Coast's population hovering at around 330,000 the club have little choice but to be creative in ways to raise revenue.

"The FFA have been brutally honest about where they believe clubs should be based in the future, and have put a population figure of about one million on it," he added.

"That's what they believe will be needed for any club to succeed... well on the score we have roughly a third of that.

"We are a long way short and need to be creative in finding other revenue streams through acquiring assets like our Centre of Excellence and trying to buy Central Coast Stadium (from Gosford Council).

"We also need to be mindful of the limits of our population base. We have to expand geographically and that means putting on one or two games a year elsewhere.

"Just because we didn't reach the anticipated levels at the weekend, it doesn't stop us in our tracks.

"It simply means that more work has to be done ... the vision remains the same."

To those who question the wisdom of putting existing supporters offside, Charlesworth offered this explanation: "We have always maintained that the vast majority of our games will be played on the Coast and that hasn't changed.

"But, as we have always said, unless we find a commercial model that works, there will be no club. It's as simple as that."

A bullish Charlesworth offered this missive to those who deride the club's strategic policies: "The people who want all the games played on the Central Coast forever ... put your hand in your pocket.

"People need understand the commercial reality of the club ... it has to be sustainable.

"The A-League clubs will lose a combined total of $20 million this year, as they have for the last few years, and we have to be creative.

"There is no way we'd be looking to buy our stadium, which we are serious about, unless we had long term plans to develop it and play most of our matches there."

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3 min read
Published 14 November 2016 at 10:30pm
By Dave Lewis
Source: SBS