Gold Coast United will launch a junior development academy this season, hosing down speculation the A-League club will be wound up at the conclusion of the campaign.
The aim of the academy will be to provide a pathway for local juniors, with the club's billionaire owner Clive Palmer keen to address issues of community engagement which have plagued the club since it's inception.
The academy's inaugural intake will comprise 22 invitation-only players, born in 1993, 1994 or 1995, who took part in trials for the club's National Youth League squad.
Last month the A-League organisation invited local clubs to identify and send two talented under-20 players for a trial. From that group, two or three will join the youth league squad, while the 'best of the rest' will be invited to join the academy.
Gold Coast youth coach Mike Mulvey hopes the initiative will foster good ties between the club and its local area.
"The club is doing some very good work in the community outside of this but the academy is part of it," said Mulvey, who ran the Queensland Academy of Sport's football program for 11 years and oversaw the development of Socceroos Tommy Oar, Robbie Kruse, Luke DeVere and Matt McKay.
"It's great for the community and I hope like hell that they come and support us and the system."
Mulvey believes it is only a matter of time before all A-League clubs have their own academies.
"Without any question of doubt, the way forward is to have every team with their own academy," Mulvey said.
"I think every single club within five years will have an academy. In fact, I know some clubs want to do it before that and are working on it right now. I'd like to see Gold Coast United as a leader in that."
Mulvey said Palmer's decision to bankroll the initiative is testament to his commitment to the club and said any suggestions that the club is to shut down are misguided.
"Our owner has also been involved in what we think has been the longest pre-season in history, but you know what? He hasn't been on holiday anywhere. He's been working hard," Mulvey said.
"He's been at every trial game we've had. He's been at every community thing we've done with the players and the team."
"It's a show of faith. It's camaraderie. He's bought into the team, the culture and he's leading the way."
"For people to suggest that the club won't be here... everyone's entitled to opinions. I have a very good feeling about the future of this club and the things we're putting in place now prove that there is a very healthy future ahead."
"Quite rightly the club took the view that they needed to make the club sustainable first, but now we can start seeing on the horizon the real possibilities."
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