Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp has confirmed the A-League leaders have been in discussions with Manchester United over a potential takeover - along with a host of other European clubs.
Responding to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald which claims the Red Devils are in ongoing dialogue with owner Mike Charlesworth and are looking to purchase the Mariners and relocate them to Sydney, Mielekamp indicated that the likelihood of a deal coming to fruition was more fanciful than factual.
He also insisted that any sale to a cashed-up suitor would ideally be predicated on the Mariners remaining on the Coast, where they are chasing the management rights to their iconic home, Central Coast Stadium.
“The chairman has held discussions with a number of clubs and interested parties across a number of years regarding the sale of the club,” said Mielekamp.
“Speculation is nothing more than speculation and it is important, as in the pre-season, none of this distracts anyone at the club – it’s just noise.
“Reports like this simply serve as a means of distraction from what is a positive season on the field.”
It’s understood, London-based Charlesworth has also spoken to Everton, Leeds United, Tottenham and Sheffield United in recent months regarding investing in the financially challenged club.
Though links with a football superpower like United may for some be marketing mana from heaven, Mielekamp is just as focused on more mundane projects like driving a partial fan ownership model through the Mariners’ Supporters Trust and engaging with Gosford City Council, which has put the stadium rights out to tender.
“I’m working to ensure this club stays exactly where it is and winning the stadium rights would certainly help in that process,” he reiterated.
“Hopefully fans will rock up in numbers to our next home match against Sydney FC (on Saturday week) and show everyone that this club doesn’t need to be moved.
“We’re one of the selected tenders for the stadium - and that’s really a game-changer for keeping us on the Coast and ensuring our survival.
“That’s still evolving and we’re told there will be a final decision in June.
“Both the chairman and I are working to make sure the club isn’t uprooted. He is trying to sell it globally, not trying to sell it locally.
“There were previous plans to play some more games in Sydney but we’ve really moved on from that now.”