Englishman Mike Charlesworth has emerged as a saviour of the embattled Central Coast Mariners with the club confirming a large cash infusion from its existing investor.
This follows the claim made in a report on The World Game on Thursday that the club was made a substantial offer by South Melbourne Football Club for a takeover at a down payment of $4 million, subject to due diligence and sanctioning by Football Federation Australia.
The claim that the South Melbourne offer was made came from reliable sources close to the discussions South Melbourne has been having with the Mariners since December.
A source close to FFA said: "There has been no agreement made between the CCM board and a Melbourne-based consortium for the sale of Central Coast Mariners" - a comment echoed by a spokesman for the Mariners.
It is believed the South Melbourne board was meeting tonight to discuss the turn of events and it is not expected the club will make any public comment until after the meeting.
Discussions on Thursday night involving Charlesworth, chairman Peter Turnbull and minortiy shareholder Lyall Gorman concluded with an undisoclosed amount being injected into the club to keep it afloat.
The fresh cash will cover immediate payments to players, coaches and staff of overdue wages and the agreement between the trio sees Gorman - chairman of rival A-League club Western Sydney - relinquish his shareholding.
The club claims the funds will allow the Mariners to implement business plans and end long-standing fears over its financial future.
Property developer Turnbull, who has dug deep to prop up the Mariners in the past few years, confirmed: 'Mike, Lyall and I have always placed top priority on the good of the Mariners and Central Coast football.
'The club is an integral part of the Central Coast region and we are determined to build a strong and stable club.
'In particular, I pay tribute to Lyall for his achievements in establishing the club. This agreement will see Lyall sever his formal ties with the Mariners, but he’ll always have a special place in the club."
Turnbull hailed Charlesworth's injection of capital as a turning point.
'Mike is a football man, like the rest of us, and he has a great passion for the game and the Mariners," he added.
"Today’s agreement means the Mariners legacy will only get stronger."
The news of businessman Charlesworth's intervention will come as a relief to the embattled playing group, which has been embroiled in a protracted dispute with the club over unpaid wages.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold praised the attitude of his players in a torrid week of speculation that culminated in reports they were prepared to take strike action if their wage demands were not met.
'It’s been a tough week for the players," Arnold said. 'But they are a great bunch of boys and the leadership group has done a great job of keeping them all together."
'Today is the first day that I have seen them because I gave them a few days off, but morale is high."
'Before training the Peter Turnbull and Mike Charlesworth had a chat to them over loudspeaker on the phone to inform them what’s going on and I think that’s relaxed a lot of the players."
'On the football side of it the players have a job to do. I have a job to do as coach and we’ve just got to get on with things. We’ve got a big game against Adelaide this weekend and we’ll make sure we’re ready for it."