The Central Coast Mariners' relationship with English Championship club Sheffield United has taken its most significant step to date. Sheffield United owner and chairman Kevin McCabe has been appointed to the Mariners board.
McCabe's appointment is a landmark moment in the two clubs' ever-growing relationship, and enhances the Mariners' position as part of the Sheffield United family.
"It is exciting to have a businessman of Kevin's calibre, with a proven dedication and commitment to football, to come on board with the Mariners," said the Mariners' deputy chairman, Peter Turnbull.
"We look forward to utilising his immense knowledge on the business of football and his experience in property development.
"We also look forward keenly to his input with the new Centre of Excellence development at Tuggerah, as Kevin has already been heavily involved in building world class centres in several cities around the world."
Today's announcement follows a long-standing reciprocation between the two clubs which has already seen interaction and fact-finding visits between all levels of the clubs, including executive, coaching, playing staff and administration.
"The Centre of Excellence project is close to commencement and Kevin's experience in being involved with these types of projects will be invaluable as we continue our quest to make the development the hub of football excellence in this country," said Central Coast's executive chairman, Lyall Gorman.
"The Mariners and Sheffield United have worked incredibly hard to get our partnership to the exciting levels it is at today, and we believe Kevin's influence has significantly helped our club move forward in many areas of its operation and thinking, buoyed by the Sheffield philosophy of thinking globally and acting locally.
"We feel very much part of the 'Blades Family', and welcome Kevin with open arms to our board. We look forward to his involvement with great anticipation and know that his passion and involvement will produce many significant positives and mutual benefits in the future."
McCabe joined the board of the club he supported as a boy in 1995 and took control in 2001, and in a partnership between Sheffield United and his company, Scarborough Holdings, has turned the football club into a diversified property and leisure services enterprise. The company has subsequently branched out into Asia, amassing a property portfolio valued at over AU$1 billion.
In 2006, McCabe and United took a 90 per cent stake in Chinese club Chengdu Five Bull, changing the name to Chengdu Blades and helping them reach the Chinese Super League.
Since then, the Mariners, along with Hungarian side Ferencvaros, have been welcomed into the 'Blades World' family.
Only last year, McCabe finalised an agreement to buy Ferencvaros, and to purchase and develop the ground around Stadion Albert Florian. The development of a new all-seater stadium with a capacity of 25,000 has already begun.
McCabe said, "In the UK, we are known as the 'family club', and as such we were immediately drawn to the club that has those same views and ideals in Australia - the Mariners.
"Their commitment to family and community programs are second to none. I am proud to join the board and look forward to being able to assist the club in realising its long-held dreams."