Charlesworth proposed Jets merger before pulling pin on Mariners


Departing Central Coast Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth proposed a merger with arch-rivals Newcastle Jets, as he brainstormed ways of forestalling his exit.

The Englishman’s audacious plan was last month floated with Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna and Football Federation Australia chief James Johnson.

However, the governing body dismissed the idea out of hand whilst McKinna - fondly remembered by Mariners fans as both coach and then director of football - said "it would be like Celtic and Rangers coming together but on a micro scale".

London-based Charlesworth will hand back the A-League licence he’s held for seven years, if a buyer can’t be found to take a majority ownership of the wooden spooners - imperilling the club’s future.

Unconfirmed reports suggest he would accept $4 million for the club.

Though the Jets are also in strife, with Chinese owner Martin Lee no longer funding the club and FFA threatening to step in, McKinna wasn’t tempted to entertain musings of a merger.

“The idea was mentioned and that was about it,” McKinna told The World Game.

“It’s two different regions, two different clubs and two different histories.

“It would be like Rangers and Celtic coming together but on a micro scale.

“Jets versus Mariners games are the original A-League derbies.

“It (the merger scheme) came up a few weeks ago and it wasn’t something from our side.

“I wouldn’t see too many fans, from either club, buying into it.”

A relocation of the fallen two-time A-League premiers is a more realistic possibility.

A-League hopefuls South Melbourne and the Michael Caggiano-led Canberra bid have previously expressed a willingness to enter into such deals, though FFA would have the final say on a move away from Gosford.

McKinna, meanwhile, confirmed that talks between himself and a mystery western Sydney-based businessman - in regards to taking over the Jets - had broken down.

“Things just fizzled out - and we now just have re-evaluate,” said McKinna.

“It’s a hard time to be selling anything. But we’re getting things right on the park under (coach) Carl Robinson.

“And hopefully what the team’s doing on the field can help as well. I’m still positive that things will happen (regarding a sale).

“I keep FFA informed on what’s going on and the relationship is good there.

“I’m speaking to Martin Lee daily again and trying to get his appetite (for the club) back up again.

“I’m not saying it’s going to go anywhere but it’s a lot more positive than it was a few months ago.”