Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp believes community ownership models are worth exploring as the club begins its search for new owners.
This type of ownership model is popular overseas with it most prominently used in the Bundesliga, whereby commercial investors are prohibited from owning more than 49 per cent of a club under the ’50 plus one’ rule – allowing clubs and fans to hold a majority of the voting rights.
This model was briefly adopted by ex-A-League outfit North Queensland Fury before its disbandment, while Canberra’s A-League expansion bid also intended to operate under a similar system.
”What’s excited me is all the talk about community ownership models and the ways fans can get in and turn what is in effect a licensed club into a genuine club…I’m very keen to drive and pursue a lot of that,’’ Mielekamp told FNR.
”That was part of the point of the independence; the previous regime I can understand that community ownership is something that would not have been on their agenda. But now with an independent league, we move forward and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t look at these and really unlock them.
”If someone wants to own a club and they’re an independent owner why would they let inmates run the asylum? But in saying that, for our club and region it’s different. We are entrenched in this region and we are the only team that’s here.’’
The Mariners will be spending the next few months entertaining offers from investors after owner Mike Charlesworth put the club up for sale on Tuesday.
Charlesworth’s decision to part ways with the club was influenced by the council’s rejection of the club’s proposal to obtain management rights of the stadium, with the British businessman prepared to heavily invest in the stadium.
Despite the possibility potential investors may seek to relocate the club, Mielekemp is confident the club will remain on the Central Coast.
”I’m extremely confident because it’s in no one’s interest for football in the country to see a region go down,’’ he said.
”Other codes have lost regions and we’ve lost regions and they never come back. The other talk is about expansion rather than a relocation scenario and they are two different conversations.
”We have an exclusive market and what football craves around the country and we’ve only just unearth and unlock some of that. Our academies are really strong and our relationship with the local association is unbelievably strong. To unlock that and build generations of football fans coming out of what could potentially be a new heartland of football is something.’’