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Sep 2, 2008

Mariners report financial year profit

Central Coast have delivered a shot in the arm to the financial security of the A-League by announcing a profit for the first time in their four-year history.

The Mariners had entered the inaugural competition as the A-League's smallest club and facing arguably the biggest challenge in terms of long-term survival.

But they have constantly punched above their weight - both on and off the field - and with Tuesday's announcement of a financial gain for 2007/08, believed to be about $300,000, continue to rank as one of the league's greatest success stories.

"It is a tremendous effort," said Peter Turnbull, the deputy chairman and majority shareholder of the Mariners, who now boast an annual turnover of $7 million.

"It is a reflection of the outstanding work of everyone associated with the Mariners, from the playing group, coaching staff and administration to our members and supporters that we have been able to progress from a concept on a sheet of paper to a turnover of $7 million within three years.

"The directors and management of the club have been working feverishly off the field to capitalise on the outstanding on-field success the club has enjoyed to provide solid foundations for the Mariners to prosper well into the future.

"We must also thank each of our sponsors and corporate supporters, who last season contributed some $3 million to our cause."

Managing director Lyall Gorman added the news was a promising sign for the club, but said the Mariners would not be resting on their laurels having already set the ambitious mark of becoming "Australia's premier football club".

Towards that end, the club launched a Mariners Academy to provide a pathway for footballers from as young as eight through to the recently introduced National Youth League and, ultimately, the A-League.

"The Mariners Academy is a cornerstone element of our ambition to become the centre of excellence for football in Australia," Gorman said.

While yet to claim the A-League championship, the Mariners remain one of the most successful clubs over the opening three years of the competition having won a minor premiership and pre-season cup, as well as featuring in two grand finals.

Central Coast will also make their debut in the 2009 Asian Champions League.

The Mariners' announcement will no doubt be music to the ears of Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy.

Lowy last month claimed the sport's finances were "reasonably sound" but said one of the biggest challenges remained to get all clubs operating in the black in the coming years.

While the majority are still running at a loss, Melbourne Victory did post a profit last year, with Sydney FC chairman Andrew Kemeny expecting his club to break even in two years.

Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna, meanwhile, will make good use of this weekend's FIFA match-day break to assist New Caledonia's preparation for the first leg of their Oceania World Cup playoff against New Zealand in Noumea on Saturday.

The second leg of the tie will be played in Auckland next Wednesday, with the winner to face the fifth-placed Asian qualifier for a World Cup berth - as well as advance to next year's Confederations Cup tournament.

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