Mariners deny stadium lockout over unpaid debts

The Central Coast Mariners have denied media reports they face a stadium lockout over unpaid debts.

Fairfax media reported the club owes $300,000 just six weeks out from the start of the 2014/15 A-League season.

But on a weekend when the club was also forced to scotch relocation rumours, Chief Executive Officer Bruce Stalder described the figures as inflated.

Stalder conceded the club owes money to Gosford City Council, but said a payment plan was in place to clear the debt.

The Mariners' boss was quoted in both The Sun Herald and The Australian newspapers on the weekend as rumours of a move and financial difficulties gathered pace.

“Reports of a ‘lockout’ of Central Coast Stadium are incorrect,” Stalder said on Monday.

“No one from the council has contacted us to note that we might not be able to play at the stadium come the start of Hyundai A-League season 10, nor was anyone from council actually quoted in the (Sun Herald) article.

“Gosford City Council are simply not the type of organisation to make threats to Central Coast Mariners.

“We have reduced our debts to council significantly over recent times, and we will continue to do so.

“We have very open and regular communication with Gosford City Council, who are a valued partner of the club, and we can assure fans that the 11 Hyundai A-League matches scheduled for the venue this season will be played there.

“Central Coast Stadium, Gosford, will continue to be our primary base, and the Central Coast will always be the home of the Mariners.”

Gosford City Council mayor, Lawrie McKinna, is a former Mariners coach, operations and football manager.

The club was also forced to refute rumours they are relocating, as the Illawarra region presses its case for inclusion in the A-League.

Stalder said whispers the club may shift to Wollongong or elsewhere were plainly false.

“We are investing heavily in the Central Coast, and this includes a multi-million dollar training and community hub in Tuggerah known as the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence,” he said.

“In fact, this coming Friday we have the official opening of our aquatic centre - which is already in operation in partnership with the YMCA - at the site.

“Work on the third stage of our Centre of Excellence will commence next month, and this includes the development of a public gym, retail outlets, a child care centre, plus an office block not only for our administration, but several local businesses and business people.”

He added: “If anyone needs further evidence of our commitment to the region and our plans to stay put and grow on the Central Coast, I invite them to contact the club and we will personally take them on a tour of the site.”