Mariners still open to home game relocation

Central Coast Mariners admit they could still relocate up to three home matches per season despite announcing a ‘landmark agreement’ with Central Coast Stadium last week.

In last week’s announcement, the Mariners said they would play the majority of their home games at the Gosford venue for at least the next three A-League seasons.

The use of the word 'majority' in the announcement left some fans scratching their heads and Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp clarified the situation.

“It means every season there will definitely be 11 or more games played out of Gosford,” Mielekamp told FourFourTwo.

“That’s to ensure we’ve got the flexibility to prepare for the future. We’ve got every determination to play as many games as possible in Gosford, but there’s financial opportunities that we need to keep in the back of our mind.”

The agreement comes after the 2015-16 fixture release which includes 13 games at Central Coast Stadium, with one match moved to Geelong under a financial deal with Melbourne Victory believed to be worth around $100,000.

Last season, the Mariners controversially flirted with relocating home games to Brookvale Oval and hosted one fixture at North Sydney Oval.

Mielekamp said, with the leeway of potentially three re-locatable matches per season, they would wisely monitor their membership base and suitable markets such as North Sydney.

“We do have an emerging membership base coming out of North Sydney who we need to continue to listen to and take seriously in the growth that it presents,” Mielekamp said.

“When there’s an opportunity for an emerging market for a club, it’s a matter of doing it right and not being tokenistic.

“Should we be faced with a scenario that we have a strong enough demand to go into that region then we’ll definitely listen to it.

“That’s why we need to be open-minded in that aspect, but nothing has been determined as a definitive direction.

“We’re confident with the natural growth of our supporter base we’ll make the right decision moving forward.”

Mielekamp said the member and fan response to the club’s ‘home’ Geelong fixture had been largely positive.

“If we weren’t taking the game to Geelong, we would have been faced with having to take two matches away,” Mielekamp revealed.

“Many of the members are excited for the match in itself. They’re understanding of the current financial situation of the club and how important financial stability is for us. It’s actually been applauded.”

Mielekamp said the concept for the Geelong fixture was made in collaboration with Victory and FFA.

“When the concept came up, we were both in the room with the FFA,” he said. “It was a joint discussion right from the start.”