The Central Coast Mariners are believed to be in talks with the Manly Sea Eagles over a possible ground-share arrangement that could see the A-League team exit Gosford.
The World Game website has reported club owner Mike Charlesworth is in talks with the NRL outfit regarding a move to the northern beaches to play their home games at Brookvale Oval.
But is it just a powerplay by the Mariners owner to speed up negotiations with the local council as he seeks to assume management rights at Central Coast Stadium?
Charlesworth has become increasingly frustrated by the long-drawn-out negotiations with the Central Coast Council regarding their existing home base and has instead raised the prospect of relocating the struggling club to Manly.
While the 23,000-capacity Brookvale Oval is set to be upgraded in the near future with the construction of a new 3,000-seat grandstand, its facilities are still among the worst in the NRL, while its playing surface has come under scrutiny on many occasions in the past.
The Mariners have in the past tried to grow their supporter base by tapping into the market north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In the 2-14/15 season, the club played a home game at North Sydney Oval and had also scheduled a home game at Brookvale, but were forced to abandon those plans. The club has also hosted home games in Canberra in the past.
Home attendances for the Mariners have dropped from 8,111 four seasons ago to just 5,504 this season, while the club is on track for its fourth A-League wooden spoon in six seasons.
Charlesworth told The World Game, “Our primary goal has always been to build a sustainable model that can ensure the club’s long-term viability, whilst adding significant value to the A League’s growth.”
“Like over the last 10 years (when Charlesworth rescued the club from oblivion), we continue to engage fully with our partners and stakeholders on the Central Coast whilst also looking at other opportunities.”
The Central Coast region has a population base of just 300,000 which makes sustainability an on-going issue.
Charlesworth was hoping to be in a position to take over the running of Central Coast Stadium, with a recent report by consultants KPMG recommending it be farmed out to a private operator. The proposal included establishing a W-League team, constructing retail outlets around the ground and harnessing it as a concert venue.
The 20,000-seat Central Coast Stadium is one of the most picturesque stadiums in Australian sport and is celebrating its 20th birthday in 2020.