Shadow Labor Minister for Central Coast, David Harris, has launched an emotional plea to the Central Coast community to save the embattled Central Coast Mariners A-League club.
The future of the Mariners is currently highly uncertain after long-term owner Mike Charlesworth put the club up for sale.
While FFA still have an element of control over franchise decisions - although are increasingly taking a backseat towards an independent A-League - the decline in both club fortunes and supporter persistence has had a significant impact on the club.
Harris wrote an opinion piece in the Coast Community News that pleaded for the community to stand up and support the club now, in their greatest time of need.
"The Central Coast has always struggled for a regional identity because of government policies, movements of population for employment and the way the Coast developed as a cheap holiday destination or as a dormitory for Sydney workers," he writes.
"The Central Coast has always had the attitude of being a “battler area”, of being left behind or forgotten. That may be justified sometimes, but it is time that we moved on and started to talk the region up.
"I was born on the Coast, I have raised my family here and I’m proud to be a “Coastie”. So, how does the Central Coast Mariners fit into this issue of identity?
"The Mariners is our only national sporting team. There have been other attempts like the ill-fated Northern Eagles Rugby League consortium, which was a merger of Manly and North Sydney, transplanted to the Central Coast.
"The point of difference is that the Central Coast Mariners was born from the Coast, the team is based on the Coast, and club has invested in the Coast.
"I remember that incredible day when the street parade was held after the Central Coast Mariners won their A-League title.
"The pride and excitement on the faces, young and old, on that day, still makes me smile.
"I was proud to be from the Central Coast."
It's a touching sign for many A-League fans, especially from Gosford given the club's history of significant issues with their local council, to see a politician come to such a passionate defence of an A-League side.
There has been a long-standing feeling across the league that the lack of political support and funding for the nation's most participated sport is one of the factors contributing to the stagnation of the A-League.
Harris writes that if the Central Coast Mariners fail, the Gosford area may never see another national sporting team again.
"Truth be told, maybe the fact that we had the Mariners has been taken for granted," he continues.
"Maybe our Council hasn’t really understood how they can leverage a relationship like other areas such as Western Sydney Wanderers and Blacktown Council have?
"The decision of current majority shareholder, Mike Charlesworth, to sell his stake in the club, is partly because of the financial commitment to own and run a football club, partly because of COVID-19 and the economic hit, but also because there has not been a commitment from organisations like Council to develop a meaningful partnership.
"I’m not saying Council should commit millions of dollars of ratepayers’ money to prop up the club, but I do think that there is not a willingness to properly explore options that could benefit ratepayers and the community.
"I’m a season ticket holder, I’m a football fan and player, I love sport in general, but I have always recognised that the Mariners’ franchise was an opportunity to sell the Central Coast on the national and global stage.
"The Coast needs the Mariners much more that the Mariners needs the Coast. A new buyer could relocate the franchise tomorrow to Canberra or Southern Sydney.
"If that happened, then we would lose our only national team, the youth structure and our ticket to the national media and sporting stage.
"Before the Central Coast Mariners, who had heard of the Central Coast in Asia and even parts of Australia?
"Would we struggle to ever get a national team again? Probably – and that would be a tragedy."