In a new article in Wednesday's Sydney Morning Herald, Dominic Bossi reports that the FFA have determined that North Sydney Oval is not up to par with A-League stadium requirements if it were to be considered as anything more than a one-off host. This is after an initial report suggested the Mariners are looking into more games outside of Gosford while the club itself issued a press release refuting a desire to relocate.
According to head of the A-League Damien de Bohun:
"There's serious work to get North Sydney Oval to that stage. The facilities, the infrastructure. There's obviously a cricket pitch in the middle of the ground.
"While we've allowed it from time to time, for it to become a more regular location they'd be needing to look at things like drop-in and drop-out wickets so we can play football on a surface that's conducive to the standard and level of the Hyundai A-League.
"The Central Coast Mariners, I think, have done a fantastic job as a club on the field and you've seen this year they've improved their memberships dramatically off the field - they've grown to 5000 members. They're looking to expand their appeal and footprint, which is fine. Overall, what they're saying strategically makes sense about wanting to get more fans. That's fantastic, but we just need to make sure the facilities line up."
For their part, the local government in North Sydney is apparently doing whatever it can to attract the Mariners on a more regular basis, according to North Sydney Council mayor Jilly Gibson:
"We are well into discussions and consultations with the Mariners and we're hoping for a positive outcome in the new year. We want as many games as possible."
Central Coast will host Wellington Phoenix at the Oval on Thursday December 19 in a rescheduled match from Week 6. It is likely that the turnout and the condition of the pitch will go a long way toward convincing FFA and the Mariners of the viability of future visits, even if the club is not interested in abandoning its traditional base on the Central Coast.