Manchester United have entered talks to purchase cash-strapped Central Coast Mariners and could relocate the A-League side, according to reports in Australia.
United have held lengthy talks with Mike Charlesworth, owner of the Australian side, relating to the purchase of the club’s licence in a bid to turn the side into a sister club of the Red Devils.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, a deal is not yet done but an agreement could see the Mariners uprooted from their Central Coast home and moved to the suburbs of North Sydney, subject to approval from Football Australia and the majority of A-League sides.
Man United are reportedly in talks with Central Coast Mariners over a deal to buy the club
The A-League side are looking for investment with owner Mike Charlesworth keen to sell
United already have connections with the Australian side, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s assistant coach Mike Phelan a sporting director with the Mariners in 2018. He spent five months in his role with the club.
The Mariners have searched for investment for some time having constantly struggled financially in recent years. Charlesworth announced last August that he intended to sell his entire stake in the club.
Central Coast are two-time champions of the A-League and have won the Grand Final once, but are best remembered on these shores for hosting Usain Bolt for ‘an indefinite training period’ in 2018.
United have reportedly held talks with the club as they look to broaden their global portfolio
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s assistant Mike Phelan (L) was the Mariners’ sporting director in 2018
The latest development is an indication that United are looking to follow in the footsteps of local rivals Manchester City, who have developed a bulky portfolio of associated clubs worldwide, including A-League side Melbourne City.
The Premier League side purchased Melbourne Heart in 2014 as part of the City Football Group global network, before rebranding them. They also own New York City, Mumbai City and Montevideo City Torque.
United are understood to be looking to build a network of clubs in Asia, which is acknowledged as a lucrative football market.
The Old Trafford side are hugely popular Down Under. They attracted a crowd of 83,000 when they faced the A-League All Stars in Sydney in 2013. In 1999, the Premier League side attracted a combined crowd of 148,000 over two games at the MCG and Stadium Australia.
The Red Devils are valued at £3.05bn by Forbes and were ranked as the fourth-most valuable club in the world by the magazine with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich the only clubs worth more than United.
The Mariners are best remembered for hosting Usain Bolt for an ‘indefinite training period’