A-League’s Central Coast Mariners have known to be searching for a new owner for quite some time and early last current owner Mike Charlesworth publicly announced the the club was officially on the market.
Newcastle Jets owner Martin Lee has also placed his team up for grabs.
There has been a lot of talk about which is the best way to financially support the league.
A-League sources confirmed that early discussions have taken place between some owners to possibly establish a central hardship fund.
A central hardship fund could be used to provide clubs at risk of collapse with a safety net.
Another option may be to let current club owners bid for the teams, however Football Federation Australia (FFA) current rules disallows any one person from controlling or influencing more than one club in a competition to maintain integrity.
The establishment of a central fund or trust may be the way to avoid stepping on toes and the FFA’s regulations state the organisation itself is able to hold more than one A-League licence at a time for an interim period.
The National Premier League’s (NPL) Wollongong Wolves head coach Luke Wilkshire may also want to get in on the action, telling the Illawarra Mercury that the reigning NPL champions would be ready to take on the Mariners licence and relocate the Gosford based team.
A change of scenery for the Mariners would require FFA approval.
The Sydney Morning Herald also reported last week that the club might stay put if part owner of Spanish team Rayo Vallecano Abdul Helou manages to lead consortium negotiating with Charlesworth over a purchase.
Whilst there are a few avenues the Jets and Mariners could go down (perhaps even a fan-funded model), NPL’s South Melbourne FC President Nicholas Maikousis told ESPN that they would not be looking into acquiring the Mariners and instead believes his club’s focus should be put toward getting a National Second Division (NSD) up and running.
“I don’t think the A-League understands we can breathe life into the A-League by having a NSD. The only way to unite the game is by the creation of a NSD. That will bring everyone back into the fold because after 16 years of the Lowy experiment, that simply hasn’t worked either,” he said.
The FFA chairmen behind the idea of a central hardship fund acknowledge that the development of their own clubs is essentially tied to the health of the smaller clubs and the A-League as a whole, so Maikousis may have a good chance at getting an NSD on the field.