After spending 12 months with the Central Coast Mariners working on football and business matters I wanted to take this time to address the Mariners Members and fans about how this club has grown both on and off the pitch in what has been a number of significant changes in the past year.
May I start by addressing the future of Liam Reddy. Liam is facing disciplinary issues that the club cannot dismiss. The board, senior management and coaching staff have decided that he has played his last game for the Central Coast Mariners.
The Club & Liam are both working towards a mutual agreement where both parties can go their separate ways. We make no apologies for fighting to maintain a strong Club culture and we made it clear to Liam that his contract would not be renewed.
Even though I have only spent a year with this club it is clear that the culture has been the glue holding the Yellow & Navy together through the good times and the bad. Anything or anyone that acts in a way that will damage or erode from that culture must be dealt with seriously. In saying that, take a look at the performances and celebrations of our boys during the 10-manned fight back against Newcastle Jets & late equaliser against Wellington Phoenix and it is obvious that this off-field blip on the radar has been dealt with before it had the chance to take a negative toll on the change room.
When I look back to when I was welcomed in the Central Coast late last year, the state that the club was in financially as well as the brand of football being played week in week out was unbearable. It could not have continued that way.
I have full confidence in what I believe is the best executive team in the Hyundai A-League with Tony Walmsley as Head Coach/Technical Director who lives and breathes the club’s new mantra to entertain and engage, CEO Shaun Mielekamp who has brought a wealth of experience and energy from his extensive background in sports administration and CFO Kathryn Duncan who has helped control spend and ensure the club’s tight budgets are kept in place. This team has the full support of the Chairman Mike Charlesworth.
With the appointment of these three key staff along with the tireless work of the Mariners’ administration staff, the club will go from losing a significant amount of money per season to reaching break-even status in the next 12 months, which is paramount to the sustainability of the Central Coast Mariners. As the club’s financial situation continues to strengthen along with the attacking and free flowing style of football and the development of the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence, this is one of the most exciting organisations to be involved with in Australian sport.
With that being said, there is no doubt that the club has significant challenges ahead. There’s no hiding behind the fact that we need more Members, we need more corporate support and with an innovative fan engagement strategy and an entertaining brand of football I am confident that this club will continue to go from strength-to-strength. I would like to say a massive thank you to our current corporate partners, in particular MasterFoods who have provided incredible support to their local team for the past decade as a foundation partner.
One of the biggest challenges the Central Coast Mariners faces is the amount of money the club loses for non-derby matches at Central Coast Stadium. We receive overwhelming support for our matches against NSW competitors but it does not make up for the financial losses the club endures when it hosts clubs such as Perth Glory or Wellington Phoenix. This is not sustainable. A priority of both Mike Charlesworth and myself is to continue exploring options to play one or two home matches outside the Central Coast that will benefit the Club financially.
The Central Coast Mariners have always been known as a “development club”. We endeavour to give youth a chance and this mantra has been strengthened with the establishment of our Academy that will see boys and girls as young as 8 play for the Mariners and move their way through the elite talent pathways of the Central Coast, Western NSW & North Shore Mariners.
What’s ahead for the Mariners? We need to continue to be bold and brave on the pitch and we need to give the Members and fans what they want. I have been lucky enough to experience the pre-game Skype calls, the pre-season pub nights and the many meet and greets that Tony, the players and senior management have embraced. In my 30 years of football there have been many “firsts” and now with the Mariners this is what we need to do to survive.
The lifeblood of this club is it’s Membership base and I urge anyone who has considered becoming a Member to get involved. Each day I wake up and feel like we are at the start of something special and I would also like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to our passionate Members and fans.
If you have any ideas that would help this club grow, please don’t hesitate to call on 4353 7200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org - the doors are always open.
For now, I am heading back to the U.K. this week where I will continue to work with the owner Mike Charlesworth and talk through what’s next before returning to the Central Coast in February.
I look forward to enjoying tonight’s entertaining affair between the Hyundai A-League Champions and your Central Coast Mariners.