Mariners denied entry to next season's W-League
FOOTBALL: Inadequate change rooms is the reason the Central Coast Mariners won't have a W-League team in next season's competition, with the club blaming the Central Coast Council for not improving the stadium's current facilities.
The Mariners were told by Football Federation Australia that next season's W-League will remain a nine-team competition, but there will be an opportunity for the Central Coast club to return to it in the 2018-19 season.
The main reason for delaying the introduction of a Mariners W-League team is the fact the current change rooms at Central Coast Stadium would not be adequate in the event of an A-League and W-League double-header.
After spending the past two years planning for a W-League team, the Mariners insist they are ready to enter the competition now and are disappointed with the delay, but acknowledge their stadium is in desperate need of improvement.
Mariners CEO Shaun Mielekamp is especially disappointed with the Central Coast Council, which he says rejected the team's proposal to add additional change rooms despite the club offering to pay for them.
"Whilst we have notional assurances additional change rooms are part of the stadium's future plans, the reality is that by October this year when we need to have the stadium ready for W-League, it simply won't be," Mielekamp said.
"There was easily enough time to get this done and there is easily enough funds, we even offered to pay for it ourselves but this offer was rejected by Central Coast Council. Our politicians at all levels, from all sides, need to link arms for progress here. We need your actions not just your kind words."
Mielekamp says the club remains committed to women's football and is determined to activate its right to have a W-League team.
"Whilst we are extremely disappointed by the decision to delay the introduction of a Mariners W-League team for the 2017-18 season, we are determined to push forward and continue with our plans to join the W-League and play our part in the growth of women's football," he said.
"We will not give up on this and will continue to work closely with every player, coach, administrator, stakeholder and potential sponsors who have helped us over the last two years with the aim of creating a W-League team that we can be proud of."