Any attempt to lure legend John Hutchinson back to Central Coast to resuscitate the asphyxiating Mariners will meet fierce opposition from his current club Western United.
The Mariners’ record appearance holder has been lauded by many - including disenchanted fans - as a potential savior after the weekend dismissal of Mike Mulvey, the fifth coach to bite the Gosford dust in five-and-a-half years.
However, with the wooden spooners-elect due to appoint assistant Nick Montgomery as caretaker for the remainder of another disastrous season, the prospect of a triumphal Hutchinson homecoming appears remote.
Appointed as an assistant coach by the new A-League entity in December, Hutchinson isn’t going anywhere according to United’s football director Lou Sticca.
“I speak to Hutch every day and he’s never once mentioned any interest (from the Mariners) and it’s not an issue,” Sticca told The World Game.
“We’re only worried about our own club and can’t think about other teams.
“We’re busy working, doing what we’re doing to get ready for next season and are not in the business of thinking about other clubs and other people’s problems.
“We’re not even contemplating (a possible approach). Hutch is an important part of our structure.
“And we’re not thinking about anything else.”
Hutchinson would resonate with locals after making more than 250 appearances for the club and acting as assistant coach, before heading to Seattle Sounders FC 2 in the US to further his coaching education.
With Mulvey sacked just hours after the shattering 8-2 home loss against Wellington Phoenix, the Mariners are at an all-time low.
But having rejected an assistant’s gig there previously, Hutchinson might not be tempted by such a gargantuan rescue mission were an offer tabled.
There is also the question of the long-term viability of a club in free-fall, on and off the field.
There are whispers from within the New Leagues Working Group - the body tasked with formulating the structure of the framework for an independently run competition - that the Mariners’ license might be distributed elsewhere, possibly to a second team in Brisbane or even to Canberra.
Five years of failure is weighing heavily on the under-funded franchise and their London-based owner Mike Charlesworth.
Sporting director Mike Phelan, the interim assistant to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United but still officially involved with the Mariners, is due back in Australia during the Premier League's international break next week for crisis talks with Charlesworth.
Newly-appointed directors Anton Tagliaferro, the owner of a club in Malta, and Accenture consultant Kamran Kahn will also be in attendance along with CEO Shaun Mielekamp.
Another hurdle for the Mariners is the competition’s lowest operating budget, with around $200,000 the most they are likely prepared to pay a new coach, with the amount available to replenish a waster-thin squad also the stingiest in the A-League.