After 10 seasons promoting themselves as a family club with a unique culture that doesn’t include or need a Marquee signing Central Coat Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp says that the club strategy has shifted.
Former Liverpool superstar Luis Garcia’s arrival in Australia signals the end of an era for the Mariners, an era when former coach Graham Arnold used to joke that the only marquee the Central Coast needed was a tent for fan day.
Mielekamp is the former General Manager of the Western Sydney Wanderers and started as CEO of the Mariners in May last year.
The Central Coast local said that the Mariners outlook on signing marquees has altered due to the club’s financial position.
“What’s changed is off the field financially,” he said.
“There is a bit more strength to give us the capacity to do that and also there is a long term strategic plan for us that involves having a look at a Marquee at least every third year.
"So for us to really do that we need to see what that model looks like how commercially this is going to benefit us and now is as good as time as any.”
Mielekamp doesn’t see Garcia’s signing as only a three month proposition with the Mariners CEO of the belief that the 37 year old’s legacy will last more than the 13 rounds of the A-League season he has signed up to play for.
“This isn’t just about this season,” he said.
“This is about the long term of the club. So the lessons that we learned the experience he’ll offer into the sheds will stay with the club for many, many years.
He aded: “It’s very exciting it’s a really big move for us on and off the field. It’s really important for us.
"The development of the young kids to be able to learn and rely on his experience and then off the field he adds a lot of excitement and hype to the Central Coast but also to the A-League. So it’s a really exciting time and we are looking forward to see how it all plays out.”
Meanwhile Mielekamp also revealed how the Mariners physiotherapist Andrew Nealon’s work behind the scenes made it possible for the Gosford club to secure Garcia’s signing.
“He played a key role in this,” said Mielekamp
“He was working at the Liverpool legends match for the Australian Legends team and got to have an insight and was able to get a good feel of the fitness quality of Luis Garcia.
"And he came back saying he is fit enough for the A-League which was an insight that the other clubs never got so it’s a great opportunity. He’s got connection with Liverpool that’s how well it flowed.”
Mielekamp also added that the potential merchandise windfall the Mariners may receive is also starting to show.
“We’ve had orders from India, Mexico, Spain and the UK,” he said.
“Four countries where that have really stood out and started hearing about the Central Coast Mariners brand. So there is a lot of learning for in how this plays out.
"Hopefully we get a bumper crowd hopefully all the Wanderers supporters increase their numbers and come up and make a real festival of the match on Saturday.”