Opinion

Mariners fans entitled to be nervous about Man United takeover talk

Source: Getty Images

Premier League giants Manchester United are reportedly looking to buy the Central Coast Mariners' A-League licence: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, they say.

If I were a Mariners fan I would not be jumping for joy at the big news that Old Trafford is interested in buying the Gosford-based club.

The A-League's smallest club that is home to players with the biggest heart is leading the competition and galvanising a whole area.

Yet if negotiations were to succeed the Mariners would be relocated to Sydney.

Negotiations are taking place between the 20-time English champions and Mariners owner Mike Charlesworth, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Charlesworth flagged his intention to sell the Mariners a long time ago but his efforts to offload the club so far have been unsuccessful.

But now that United have become interested in acquiring the Mariners as a feeder club, it appears that his wish might be granted.

An injection of funds into the A-League would be welcomed by any reasonable football follower.

If Old Trafford takes its investment seriously enough and brings quality players to Australia, the new independent A-League and its followers would be the big winners. No doubt about that.

It also would be the next step up for the battling club that has punched above its weight since day one.

Look what Manchester City have done to struggling Melbourne Heart when they bought the club in 2014 and renamed it Melbourne City as part of the powerful City Football Group.

The league would benefit greatly from Manchester United's involvement in Australian football and only the churlish among us would dispute that but what about the Mariners and their fans?

One condition of a prospective sale is that the club be relocated to Sydney's northern beaches. This seems to me an ill-advised move that smacks of betrayal.

Apart from the fact that there could be no better way for any club to distance itself from its fans than by abandoning them and going to play their home games somewhere else, what makes it reasonable to expect that a new club in Sydney would attract as many new fans as those that will be lost by a relocation?

Especially since Sydney's northern beaches are known as a rugby league stronghold.

The Mariners fans are enjoying a superlative season after years of frustration and many are slowly coming back to the fold.

But the news that their team might not be 'theirs' to support and enjoy for much longer would seem like a kick in the guts not just to the supporters and volunteers that have kept the club afloat in turbulent waters but to the whole community.

Not to mention that the competition would lose one of its genuine and meaningful derbies ... the F3 Derby against Newcastle Jets.

This is not a negative reaction to what is essentially a positive story.

It is more of a warning that although interest in Australian football from a true giant of the world game should be welcomed with open arms, the cost of possibly losing a club that enjoys a high degree of popularity and sympathy is too high.

The club's current management will obviously look at any option that could turn the Mariners from paupers to princes.

However, try telling the fans that a king's ransom is the best thing that could happen to their club.

Source SBS The World Game