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Jan, 30, 2013

Mariners open talks with Asian investors

Central Coast Mariners are courting Asian investors as the A-League club aims to consolidate its financial position.

The Mariners are in the midst of building a $70 million Centre of Excellence at Tuggerah north of Gosford, which is a large part of the club's strategy to maintain their recent on-field success and grow the code's popularity on NSW's Central Coast.

To help complete the state-of-the-art complex, Mariners chairman Peter Turnbull has been trying to attract additional investment for some time.

In April, he denied claims he was set to hand back the club's A-League licence to Football Federation Australia.

Turnbull, who holds a controlling interest in the club, has been negotiating with a Russian consortium for the past 12 months but those talks seem to have stalled after a Mariners' statement on Wednesday said two Asian football investment groups will soon visit Gosford.

Next year, the Mariners will add a 130-room hotel, licensed clubhouse, six-storey office tower and an aquatic centre to the training facilities and football administration offices opened last year.

Over January, the club has been busy negotiating with overseas clubs keen to sign some of the Mariners' brightest young players inside the transfer window.

Tom Rogic was sold to Celtic while coach Graham Arnold is counting down the hours until the end of the month with Bernie Ibini impressing Belgian side Club Brugge in a trial last week and goalkeeper Mat Ryan also considered hot property.

"This is an exciting juncture in the club's short, yet proud history," said Turnbull.

" ... (and) Mariners FC are currently assessing a range of additional investment options."

Should the club seal a deal it will join Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar as A-League clubs with foreign investors.

The club might also consider an initial public offering (IPO) which would make the Mariners the first publicly-owned football club in Australia.

The Mariners will this year compete in the Asian Champions League for the third time and are on track to qualify again in 2014 given they're currently top of the A-League table.

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