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Manchester United’s administration has in recent years angered several of their club’s fans. A lack of willingness to invest, taking dividends throughout the pandemic, and burdening the club with debt are just some of the outrageous actions that the Glazers have taken in recent times.

This time however, it is not the Red Devils fans that are upset by the Glazers’. They have now managed to anger Central Coast Mariners fans, half a world away. The Manchester club is reportedly in talks to buy out the A-League side and relocating them.




The team based in New South Wales have been a part of the A-League since its inception in 2005. Owned by Mike Charlesworth, an English telecom millionaire, the club has struggled financially in recent years. Although the side is first in the 2020-21 A-League season, their best finish in the past five completed seasons has been eighth.



In 2020, Charlesworth announced that he will be parting ways with the Mariners and has been looking for investors since. Talks were held with First11 Capital, a Singapore based consortium and Abdul Helou, a Sydney businessman but a deal did not materialise.



The English giants have held lengthy discussions with Charlesworth, as club chief executive Shaun Milelekamp revealed, over purchasing the team and making it their sister club. It has also been reported that if the deal goes through, United will be looking to relocate the Mariners to Sydney. It is this expected move that has caused considerable outrage.



The Mariners are not a big club and consistently rank towards the bottom end of attendance figures for the A-League. However, they are grounded in the community and have a loyal supporter base. A relocation would almost certainly alienate the majority of these fans who have already expressed their displeasure at the possibility.



Relocations of football clubs have almost never worked out, in Australia and around the world. Rangers had bought Northern Spirit, a club in A-League’s predecessor National Soccer League, changed the colours and relocated it and it went completely wrong. The Scottish giants disinvested quickly and the club folded soon after.

Closer to United’s home, Wimbledon FC decided to relocate to Milton Keynes in 2003 and subsequently lost all its supporters. The supporters decided to form their own team, Wimbledon AFC, and nearly two decades on the two sides compete in the same league – League One. Football clubs are community endeavours and no amount of money can buy local support.


Wimbledon and MK Dons serves as a poignant reminder for United's disaster in making takeover of Central Coast Mariners
Wimbledon AFC’s fans’ banner for their meeting with MK Dons in 2019 (Courtesy: Bands FC/Twitter)



The Glazers and United however don’t seem to be considering these factors. The club is attempting to go down the route of their neighbours Manchester City and its City Football Group. The group owns clubs across the world but none of the clubs taken over – Melbourne City, Mumbai City, and New York City – have managed to capture hearts and develop an identity, irrespective of on-field results.

The Red Devils plan to relocate the Mariners to Northern Sydney, around 80kms away from their current home, the Central Coast Stadium. The takeover and subsequent relocation seems like a tactic being employed by the Glazers to further their own brand, at the cost of the Central Coast Mariners.



The suburbs of Sydney would perhaps be a better market for Manchester United but it is not for the Central Coast Mariners. Football clubs are not vessels to be used for commercialization. Even the uber rich City Football Group understands that and invests considerable time and resources towards engaging fans. Glazers have already alienated Red Devils fans and the Australian FA would do well to prevent that from happening with the Mariners as well.

Ritwik Khanna
Economics student supporting FC Goa and Manchester United, in true masochistic way. Can be found reading Jonathan Wilson and Sid Lowe or planning a quirky trip in his free time.

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