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Sheffield United takes action in Central Coast partnership

Central Coast Mariners partnership with English club Sheffield United is starting to prove fruitful says chairman Lyall Gorman. Sheffield players are believed to be considering loan deals to play in the A-League for a few months in what would be a major coup for the Mariners.

Names being thrown around include former Northern Ireland international Keith Gillespie, former England international Lee Hendrie and 22-year old Ireland international Stephen Quinn.

Gorman said that not only the on-field endeavours will prosper from the 'brotherhood' partnership, but there are also off-field gains to potentially enjoy.

"I know a lot of fans only think about the playing side of things, but players aren't the major priority here," he said. "Think local, act global, is the slogan Sheffield United use, and that also applies to us. This is about consolidating and building an international brand."

Besides the relationship with the A-League club, the Blades own Hungarian side Ferencvaros and Chinese club Chengdu Blades and just last week, Blades international director Mike Farnan visited Australia and spent some time with the Mariners to discuss possibilities.

"We had three very interesting days with Mike, and it's fair to say we've really learnt the potential of the relationship for the first time," Gorman said.

"It's the first time we've had a chance to sit down and look at this. We've finally got the time to be proactive rather than reactive. I think we can also say that Mike was exceptionally happy, exceptionally surprised, to see what sort of club we've built in such a short space of time.

"From our side, we finally understand the dimensions of this partnership. For instance, we could end up having the same naming rights sponsor across all our shirts, or we could end up getting a major sponsor for our [Asian Champions League] campaign through these contacts.

"We could also end up, over time, getting new investors out of this. There's also the coaching and player exchanges, there's things like talent identification, we might send our staff over there for a month at a time, and there's the chance to play matches. For instance, we could send the team over to Chengdu for a camp to prepare for the ACL [Asian Champions League].

"There's a range of opportunities which really are quite amazing. It's been an eye-opener for us, that's for sure. We've now got a to-do list, 30 items are there, and we'll start to prioritise them from here on. Sheffield are also having a seminar in Malta in January for all the clubs, and we'll be going over there to take this to the next level."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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