Central Coast Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp insists there is no talk of the club selling its A-League licence...and is convinced it has a viable future.
The Mariners were plunged into crisis again at the weekend when they sacked coach Mike Mulvey after an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Wellington Phoenix.
They hired former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic today to see them through to the end of the season – but are so far behind on the table, they are almost certainly destined to claim their third wooden spoon in four years.
Now speculation has been ramped up that the Mariners could be for sale, possibly to a renewed bid by Canberra United who have been tipped to be the FFA's next expansion club.
Buying the Mariners' licence could shortcut the bureaucracy of bidding for a whole new licence and fast-track the nation's capital into the A-League at last after 11 years in the W-League.
Today though Mielekamp admitted owner Mike Charlesworth may well have plans to sell – but if he has, he's not discussing them with him, said the CEO.
"Every owner's got their own decisions to make," said Mielekamp. "But that's above my pay grade.
"He's not been talking to be about that possibility which is a good sign. All the possibilities have been about how the Central Coast Mariners stay on the Central Coast.
"He knows I'm absolutely passionate about that, I'm driven by that and I'm here to make sure the club is here long term, forever."
Mielekamp – sporting a shiner he said he thought he picked up in a game of football at the weekend – insisted the appointment of Stajcic would help put the final pieces in place to make the club competitive again after years of misery.
But he admitted the club was struggling to keep up with the rest of the league both on and off the field and lacked the resources enjoyed by their rivals.
"No-one can deny we've not had a great record," he added. "We have to make sure we fix it now. People don't want to hear words any more, they want to see actions.
"We've learned a lot, we've to learn those lessons, understand it and get it right. Obviously there has been times of change for each of the previous seasons. We've learnt those lessons.
"But we wouldn't be here today if that was working..."
Stajcic's belief in the squad – grounded in the team being in front at half-time in nine matches so far this season, only to blow that lead in the second half – underpins the club's confidence that they can be competitive.