Jai Topfer playing the the CQ Mariners Gladstone at Brian Niven Park. Gladstone hosted a round of the InterCity Cup. Photo Jake Jones / The Observer
Jai Topfer playing the the CQ Mariners Gladstone at Brian Niven Park. Gladstone hosted a round of the InterCity Cup. Photo Jake Jones / The Observer Jake Jones

Soccer proposal still a work in progress for CQ Mariners

SOCCER: CQ Mariners committee members have voted to transfer ownership of the club's field to Football Queensland.

The iconic soccer ball at Brian Niven Park.
The iconic soccer ball at Brian Niven Park. Mike Richards GLA240915WHER

The vote took place on Tuesday night at the Mariners' annual general meeting and has left many questioning the future of the club.

Members voted to wind up the incorporation and for the field to be owned by FQ.

Mariners' president Jeff Wells said falling membership numbers since the end of the InterCity Challenge program led to the vote.

"Basically the upkeep of the facilities was intangible and we looked at a few options like a merger with Yaralla or even with Football Central Queensland but that didn't come to fruition," he said.

FQ chief executive Richard Griffiths said there was still more discussions and negotiations to take place before a deal was made.

Griffiths said it was yet to be determined what involvement the state governing body may or may not have with the Mariners.

"We had a board meeting (on Wednesday) where the matter was discussed at a very high level, a conceptual level," Griffiths said.

"But there's still plenty of work to be done in terms of discussing with the key stakeholders, including Mayor Matt Burnett and MP Glenn Butcher, to determine what's the best way forward for the facility.

"To re-iterate, the facility is still under the ownership of the CQ Mariners.

"Football Queensland, while we're in discussions, we have not arrived to any decisions as to what involvement we'll have into the future."

Griffiths wanted to make it clear that FQ - as the governing body for football in Queensland - wanted to protect the best interests of clubs and facilities.

"We're very conscious of ensuring that the facility remains in the ownership of football for the benefit of participation and developing the game," he said.

CQ Mariners president Jeff Wells said the ideal scenario was for the Gladstone Benaraby Rd precinct to be owned by FQ.

Wells said he believed it would be a "huge coup" for Gladstone football to have a FQ facility in the region.

"As a football community, if we got behind that and supported that, then it would be something that the whole community would be proud of," he said.

But Wells said any changes would take time and more negotiations.

"We've got a few things to do within the incorporation before we can wind up," he said.

"But we don't physically know where the assets are going at this stage."

Meanwhile Griffiths said the Talent Support and Skills Acquisition Programs would not be affected if FQ took ownership of the facility.

"We've just invested in the region by appointing a technical development manager Mark Delaney and we're committed to providing pathways for young players, boys and girls, in the Gladstone and Central Queensland region," he said.

"Clearly we need a quality facility to be able to conduct those programs."

Griffiths said discussions would continue next week about how to provide a suitable environment for the programs.

Gladstone Region Mayor Matt Burnett said he would be supportive regardless of the outcome, as long as it helped Gladstone soccer thrive.

Cr Burnett spoke with Griffiths on Wednesday morning.

"My offer to them was to give the land to council and let us find a supporting club that will use it," Cr Burnett said.

"We paid for the upgrade of the dressing rooms and, at the time, we were very cautious of the fact that it was freehold land and that one day, maybe someone in the future might sell it.

"We put a condition on that grant that if it ever is sold, they would have to refund the money back to ratepayers."

Even though Cr Burnett has opposed potential FQ ownership he said he was prepared to work with the body and local clubs.

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