A-League champions Central Coast Mariners have denied speculation they could relocate to Sydney's northern suburbs as they attempt to stem losses of more than $1 million a year.
The Mariners admit they are testing the market by scheduling their December 19 home match against Wellington Phoenix at North Sydney Oval and could play more games there.
But they insist their commitment to the NSW Central Coast remains "unwavering" and the North Sydney Oval experiment is part of a strategic effort to build a base limited by the Gosford area's relatively small population.
The club pointed out on Tuesday that the owners - including new majority shareholder Mike Charlesworth - had injected over $15 million into the club and the Tuggerah-based Centre of Excellence over the past year.
"As such the Central Coast will remain the home of the reigning A-League champions," said a club statement.
"Indeed, Mr Charlesworth is investing in the club's Centre of Excellence with the aim of Central Coast being home to the premier sports training facility in the country, and one day being the official training base of Australia's men's and women's national football teams."
The club said a recent analysis showed that about 20 per cent of its members lived in Sydney's northern suburbs - less than an hour's drive to the south of their Gosford home ground Bluetongue Stadium.
Explaining the December 19 game at North Sydney Oval, the club said it wanted to engage with more supporters from Sydney's northern suburbs in order to encourage them to routinely make the short trip to watch the Mariners.
It said it would study the off-field success of its game against Wellington before making any decision or commitment to play further matches at North Sydney Oval.
However scheduling the match has led to speculation that North Sydney Oval could provide better financial incentives to play there than Gosford City Council will afford at Bluetongue Stadium when it takes charge of that venue from February 1.
The council recently knocked back a joint submission by the Mariners to run Bluetongue Stadium.
"One of the things I really need to do coming in as new owner is to look at all possibilities and build a sustainable long-term future," Charlesworth told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"It's not sustainable, the losses that we're making exceeding $1 million a year. It's not sustainable for the Central Coast or for any particular owner, certainly not myself.
"So something has got to change and if it doesn't change there won't be a Central Coast Mariners, full stop. Finito.
"We have to make this work because that's the alternative, there is no football club, full stop, unless we do something.
"So that means a lot of work on the Central Coast and a lot of work in other regions."