Open letter from Chairman Richard Peil

Dear Mariners Community, 

August is my fifteenth month at the helm of the greatest club in the A-League. It has already been one of the most rewarding, but challenging, professional journeys of my life. 

Firstly, I’d like to start this message by thanking and congratulating everyone who played a part in securing our Championship victory. This of course includes the players and coaching staff, but also the office team, sponsors, stakeholders, and most importantly, our loyal fans. Your support, both at the stadium and watching from afar, created an incredibly powerful “12th man” on Grand Final day, and I know it gave the team a massive boost. I think we are all still pinching ourselves at the final result. I had every confidence in Monty, Serg and the playing squad, but even my most ambitious wishes didn’t go as far as a 1-6 final scoreline! I’ve lost count of the exact number, but it’s safe to say I’ve watched the full match replay at least 15 times, probably more (and I still get goosebumps). I’m sure I’m not alone there! It’s worth reminding ourselves this was achieved on a club budget that’s a third the size of the bigger clubs, and half of most other clubs in the league. We also had the youngest squad and more academy graduates playing week in and week out than any other club. So again, please accept my sincerest and deepest ‘thank you’ for rallying behind us and getting us to the trophy podium.

With the Championship trophy secured at Mariners HQ for the next year, the entire Mariners staff immediately turned their focus to the 2023/24 campaign. Monty, Serg, Simmo, Shaun and the entire team have been hard at work, basically starting the day after the Grand Final! I’m sure you have seen some of our recent transfer announcements, including Nectar, Sam, Anthony, James and Beni heading to Europe and Jason to India. We’re extremely happy to see these guys take the next step in their careers, and we look forward to watching them seize their opportunities and hopefully secure full Socceroo selection. In the other direction, our announcements of Jing Reec, Noah Smith and Alou Kuol re-joining the Mariners family, and Mikael Doka putting on the yellow & navy, are all outstanding results for our club. I can’t wait to see these take the field next season. We will have more announcements coming soon!

Other than to say ‘thank you’, the purpose of this message is to once again seek your support in our 2023/24 membership campaign. Shaun, Dan and our entire team have worked hard to re-engineer our membership structure this season, with the goal of making it more accessible to more Mariners fans, including those who love the club from afar. The importance of the membership drive to our club is twofold. Firstly, as I said earlier, the power of the “12th Man” is immense, and every additional Mariners fan around the globe adds further strength to this. Secondly, the long-term financial security memberships give to the club are vital. Like most A-League clubs, we ran at approximately a three million dollar loss for the season just completed. The new membership structure should, over time, play a big part in helping reduce this to a more manageable level. This investment last season was worth every cent, partly because we are Champions, but also because much of this was invested in facilities and strategies for long term success.

On the topic of club finances, there’s a bit of a misconception floating around football circles that winning the Championship means a financial return for the club. Candidly, it doesn’t at all. There is no prize money for winning the A-League Championship. In fact, the entire finals campaign has a net financial effect on the club of approximately a $100k+ loss. By finishing second in the regular season, we qualified for the AFC Cup, which is extremely exciting. However, it too comes at a large financial outlay. Unless we make it to the final, our current forecast predicts it’ll create a further $350k+ loss. Finally, although the recent transfer fees have been great, after paying all mandatory amounts to involved parties and governing bodies (everyone has their hand out, trust me), the net result to the club is much, much less than reported in the media. The transfers and Championship win do give us great stories to tell potential sponsors and business partners, and we have taken active steps to employ additional, high-quality talent to drive this area of the business. But again, this is an additional overhead initially and it will take time to generate a return. It’s important for members to know that the club is investing in important off field roles in these commercial departments, purely aimed to grow the club for the long term.  

I don’t share this to complain, it’s more from a place of honesty and transparency as Chairman of your beloved club. I’m more privileged and honoured than ever to hold this position, I just need your continued help and support to keep this club heading towards our desired position of long-term financial stability. 

So, my plea is simple, and the first part is easy; Our team plays exciting football and we’re poised for another great season, so please, re-join the Mariners family by purchasing a $3 a month annual membership for this season. We also need an average of 10,000 people attending every match and cheering on the squad, so please also purchase your season tickets if you’re able to attend. The second part is equally as vital; please reach out to everyone you know and encourage them to join our Champions community. A-League matches can be watched from anywhere in the country, and indeed from pretty much anywhere in the world too. Let’s work together to get as many fans as we can on board to share in this experience. As I said, a membership can be purchased for $3 per month. It might not sound like much, but if every one of our current 5,000 members could get 4 family or friends to join too, the numbers add up. It is my mission to create a sustainable and thriving football community on the Central Coast. 

As always, thank you for your time and for your continued support. I look forward to watching our Champions lift the trophy again in a year’s time. 

Yours faithfully, 

Rich Peil

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