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Apr 26, 2013

Mariners say they'll keep marquee coach

Newly crowned A-League championship coach Graham Arnold says it's no secret he wants a gig overseas but insists no club has approached him or made an offer.

The Central Coast manager, gleaming with pride after the Mariners' inaugural grand final victory parade through Gosford on Friday, said he was happy to see out the one year left on his contract and dismissed as speculation claims that various Asian and European clubs had expressed interest in him.

"I have not heard anything from anyone - it's all news to me," Arnold said.

"I've got another year at the Mariners and I'm very happy here."

Having finally secured the Mariners' first A-League title on Sunday after losing three previous deciders, Arnold admitted he had no idea about the likelihood of being picked up by a major overseas club.

"I've got the ambition, though. I'm like a young player in Australia that has ambition to play overseas," he said.

"I've been in the Australian set-up, coaching with the national team for 10 years, and now three years here (at the Mariners).

"I've always been someone that wants to challenge myself or test myself.

"I have the ambition one day to coach overseas but whenever that is I don't know."

Central Coast chairman Peter Turnbull says neither he nor the club will stand in the way of Arnold's international pursuit but is hopeful of holding onto the 49-year-old for another year.

"I think we'll keep him," Turnbull told AAP.

"I think he'll stay but we'll have to wait and see what he decides to do after that.

"Arnie wants to be a pioneer as a coach like he was as a player.

"He wants to be an Australian coach, coaching the top level of world football - that's what he wants, that's his ambition. We'll basically support him when that time comes."

Asked about the importance of keeping Arnold to nurture the side's younger prospects, Turnbull admitted the coach played a key part in their future.

"The thing about the Mariners is they've got a marquee coach and we give Australian youth the opportunity to shine," he said.

"Our squad for next year will be fantastic.

"But how similar it will be to this year's title-winning team is unknown."

While no offers had been made, Turnbull confirmed there had been expressions of interest from major European clubs in at least three players - defender Trent Sainsbury, goalkeeper Mat Ryan and striker Bernie Ibini.

Off the field, the Mariners will be without inaugural chief executive John McKay, who was let go by new owner Mike Charlesworth this week as part of refocusing the club.

Part of that new direction will be reconnecting with fans, Turnbull said, including through community forums.

"Everyone loves winners and we've got to really take advantage of our success - hopefully get more members and people through the gates," Arnold said.

That mission begins on Tuesday, with Turnbull announcing that tickets for the Mariners' final Asian Champions League group home match against Japan's Kashiwa Reysol at Bluetongue Stadium had been slashed to $10.

It came shortly after the chairman told the 7000-strong crowd that the cash-strapped Mariners were debt-free.

"Our bills have been paid. We have settled today with the tax office and the Mariners are now here to stay," Turnbull said.

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