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The future of A-League side Central Coast Mariners as a Gosford-based club "is secure after businessman Mike Charlesworth agreed to take majority ownership of the club on Thursday night," according to Sebastian Hassett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Club Chairs Peter Turnbull and Lyall Gorman "accepted an offer from Charlesworth in an effort to ease the club's well-documented and ongoing financial woes," taking his ownership stake up to 64%. In more good news, the players and staff "who missed their regular monthly payments this week will also be paid in full in the coming days." However, while Charlesworth "will officially take the reins of the Mariners on Friday morning when the paperwork is formally signed," it is also possible he may sell the club again. A Russian consortium, which has been interested in buying the club during the past 18 months "is set to make a final offer in the next week," while another interested owner from China -- who has deep links with Asian football -- "will visit in the next fortnight." It has been speculated that Gorman "has been resistant to sell his shares, listed in his wife's name." Gorman "denies this." He said, "'There was some very poor and ill-informed comment this week that I was a barrier to the sale but it's to the absolute contrary" (SMH, 3/22).
SEALING THE DEAL: In Sydney, Ray Gatt reported that Charlesworth confirmed that "the deal was almost done." He said, "I would expect that 99 percent of it will be signed off in the morning, as soon as the documents are drawn up by the lawyers. It is a positive outcome. I cannot believe that anyone would stop this going ahead at this moment in time. All the major issues have now been sorted and everyone wants to do the deal" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/22). Also in Sydney, Tom Smithies reported the deal means that Turnbull's stake "diminishes once the deal is signed off" Friday morning, while fellow shareholder Gorman -- the Wanderers' executive chairman -- "will exit the club." Turnbull admitted his relief Thursday night "after spending years keeping the Mariners afloat." Turnball said, "Mike, Lyall and I have always placed top priority on the good of the Mariners and Central Coast football" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 3/22).
FINANCIAL PROBLEMS: ABC NEWS' Michelle Brown reported the drama at the Central Coast is "the latest in a short A-League history hampered by financial insecurity." While int'l marquee players including Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono "have lifted the profile of the game, generating cash for clubs is an ongoing problem." A-League CEO Damien de Bohun said that investment in the A-League "is buying into the world's most popular game and remains an attractive, long-term proposition." De Bohun said, "As a long-term investment, the fundamentals are strong. Major League Soccer in America followed a similar trajectory in its early years, but is now a booming business model" (ABC NEWS, 3/21).
Scottish First Division side Dunfermline AFC's game against Dumbarton "will take place on Saturday, despite the company that owns the club being in grave danger of going into liquidation on Monday," according to Richard Wilson of the HERALD SCOTLAND. Some suppliers "were wary about providing the club with stock and services for the game, but fans have provided money to meet costs up front." Around £20,000 ($30,400) "was required to allow Saturday's game to go ahead as normal." Bob Garmory, a member of the Steering Group set up to try and rescue the club, said, "The game will take place." He added: "People have underwritten supplier issues so the game can take place. They are fans; one has spent £2,000 ($3,000) on the pies so that £4,000 ($6,100) or £5,000 ($7,600) can be raised." Talks "over a rescue plan continue," but the finance to buy out Gavin Masterton's 94% stake "has not been raised and no formal proposal has been drawn up." If U.K. tax authority HMRC is not paid by 5pm on Monday, it "will petition the Court of Session to appoint a liquidator" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 3/21).
BACK-UP PLAN: In Glasgow, Gordon Parks reported Scottish Football League chiefs "are bracing themselves for a First Division promotion and relegation shambles if Dunfermline go bust." The prospect of being liquidated "would set in motion an SFL ruling that declares all of Dunfermline’s results this season null and void and would drastically alter the league." If HMRC's winding-up order is acted upon next week, Scottish football "would face an unprecedented situation that would see leaders Morton automatically handed an extra two-point advantage over second-placed Partick Thistle due to points gained or lost against the Pars this season." At the bottom end, Airdrie’s "fight against the drop would be all but over as they would be struck with a four-point deduction" (DAILY RECORD, 3/21).