Before we get stuck into this, here's the offending article from the World Game site, followed by commentary from several related sources.
A majority of the Central Coast Mariners board has agreed to sell the club to a Melbourne-based consortium, consisting of three South Melbourne directors, for $4 million.
The World Game understands the deal was agreed on Wednesday, with a 10 percent deposit due on Thursday.
It was reported in The Australian that a member of the Mariners board flew to Melbourne on Wednesday to meet with an interested party, while a Russia-based investor is still keen to pump $15 million into the club and its valuable land assets.
It is believed key Mariners investors, chairman Peter Turnbull, Lyall Gorman and Mike Charlesworth, who own a combined 64 percent stake in the club, had been stalling with a view to wooing the Russian group.
The new arrangement would see the Mariners relocate up to four of their home matches - those perceived to draw the lowest gate - to Melbourne.
The news is set to come as a relief to the embattled playing group, which has been embroiled in a dispute with the club over unpaid wages. The existing Mariners board met with representatives of Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) on Thursday afternoon in an attempt to resolve the matter.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) is yet to ratify the agreement but is believed to be satisfied with the nature of the deal.
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.”
Arnold said he has confidence in the club’s capacity to rectify its ownership and financial issues.
“There has to be a resolution and I am pretty sure that it will be sorted out quite quickly,” he said.
“There’s no hiding the fact Peter Turnbull has publicly asked before for new investment in the ownership. It’s probably come to the stage now where something has to happen.”
Ray Gatt, chief soccer writer from the Sydney Morning Herald
Can tell you with absolute assurance that the SBS story is totally wrongSo to start off with, he's claimed Mike Charlesworth will take over the Mariners, but then goes on to say:
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) March 21, 2013
@deanrosario lol.I've been wrong many times and will happen again! If I am now then so be it.at least I've been at forefront of this storyProfessional Footballers Association
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) March 21, 2013
They've also released a statement on the matter.
PFA MEDIA RELEASE
Sydney: Thursday 21 March 2013
The playing group of the Central Coast Mariners has instructed the PFA to express, in the strongest possible terms, their frustration and disappointment surrounding the negotiations of change of ownership at the club.
Despite been assured on a number of occasions that payment of their salaries would be imminent, these promises have failed to materialise placing the players under enormous financial pressure and hardship. In some cases the players have been unable to pay for their families groceries.Central Coast's official point of view
The players have acted in good faith however there is a limit to their goodwill. The players have agreed not to take any industrial action at this time but the PFA does not rule out this possibility in the coming weeks.
President Simon Colosimo said “Once again this matter shows the precarious nature of being a professional footballer in Australia and ironically comes at a time when the PFA is seeking to negotiate greater contract security with FFA as part of our new CBA”.
Chairman John Poulakakis said “The players have suffered enough. Once again they are being forced to subsidize poor governance and management of the game. The players’ basic entitlements have been trampled on. Whatever is creating this delay must be addressed immediately. It’s time for certainty and the FFA and the club’s Directors to do the right thing by the players and the fans.”
We can state that moving matches from Gosford to Melbourne is not in our plans. #aleagueAnd then you have Ray Gatt again
— CentralCoastMariners (@CCMariners) March 21, 2013
Mariners deal done. Papers to be signed off tomorrow. Mike Charlesworth now controlling owner. Club in good hands
— Ray Gatt (@Gatty54) March 21, 2013What we're going to take a guess at
That a South takeover or relocation was to be used or is going to be used, or has been used as a way of forcing a resolution to the longstanding issues with regards the ownership of Central Coast Mariners. Somebody somewhere at FFA headquarters got fed up with 'the Russians are coming' rumours, and this is how this situation has been resolved.
The best part of all of this
That so many people were caught out this, I suppose rather like our entry into the Singapore Cup a few years back, albeit here on a much funnier scale.
My ultimate position, for future reference
The only acceptable solution for any theoretical South Melbourne A-League bid, is
- a member run and owned club
- called South Melbourne
- playing in blue and white
- with all games in Melbourne
- with approval granted for entry by the members
Whatever the end result of this is
That was the most fun I've had over a three hour period for a long time. Aussie soccer delivers the goods again, and long may it continue to do so.