Mariners make a pitch for permanent NYE fixture

Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp is lobbying the FFA to make the club’s New Year’s Eve fixture permanent as part of his overall push to engage the local community.

Mielekamp was appointed as Mariners CEO in May after being the Western Sydney Wanderers commercial manager and had previous roles with NRL clubs South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers.

Improving the club’s community engagement and building their business component and corporate support are two key tenets for Mielekamp in Gosford.

As part of engaging the local community, the Mariners were delighted to have scheduled 13 home games in Gosford in 2015-16, while they’ve committed to a minimum of 11 games at Central Coast Stadium for the next three years.

The NYE game is also about giving the local community what they want, with the fixture averaging crowds of 13,689 for the past four years before being dropped off the schedule for the first time ever last season.

“It should never have been forgotten,” Mielekamp told FourFourTwo.

“The New Year’s Eve game is one we’ve already begun to lobby the FFA to make sure it’s never forgotten about again and is always in every draw.

“For us, that should be every season year on year.”

After years of on-field success, the Mariners dropped down to eighth in 2014-15, with crowds slipping to a league-low average of 7,585 per game.

Despite having the lowest population base in the A-League, Mielekamp is confident that building on the Mariners’ community engagement base will ensure the club won’t rely on on-field success.

“What has been exciting is the amount of work already being done here in the community space, but there’s a need and calling for the club to do,” Mielekamp said.

“It’s a combination of both. There’s so much that was planned and done at the Wanderers which was built off the Mariners model. It was a matter of re-engaging to what we started in the first place.”

He added: “Any kid who is registered to play on the Central Coast over a two-year cycle will not only get to meet the Mariners but get trained by a Mariner.

“I’ve not seen that in any other sporting franchise across Australia. The more we do, the better. We’ve got that opportunity.”

Mielekamp highlighted a family first priority, with plans to highlight all with a variety of worthy causes and charities such as the club’s pink round for women’s cancer research.