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GRAHAM ARNOLD...Staying at Mariners
GRAHAM Arnold today confirmed he would be back at Central Coast Mariners next season...and revealed he had decided to extend the deal for another year too.
Arnold ended months of speculation today when he officially rejected the overtures from Sydney FC to stay with Central Coast Mariners.
Sydney are understood to have offered the former Socceroos coach a lucrative contract in a bid to lure him south to the harbour city and bring his success with him.
In two years at the Mariners, he steered the Central Coast side to two top two finishes, a Premiers Plate and a grand final on a shoestring budget compared to some other A-League sides.
It was budget worries that appeared set to decide Arnold's fate, with the Mariners apparently living hand to mouth for wages and forced to sell their best players to cover the salaries.
Constant battle to be paid meant Arnodld was almost certain to make the move to Sydney, until the Mariners thrashed Tianjin Teda 5-1 in the Asian Champions League last week.
At that point, Arnie's mood seemed to change and he wanted to stay to see the Mariners ACL campaign through to the end. A win next week against Nagoya Grampus will see the Mariners qualify to the knockout stages for the first time.
It is also understood the club has secured new funding to safeguard its future and open the pursestrings for Arnold to make better quality signings in the seasons ahead.
Today Arnold confirmed he was staying and spoke about his reasons for the decision to extend the deal to the end of the 2013/14 season.
“Two years ago I signed a three year contract with the Mariners," Arnold said this afternoon.
"I have decided to see that three year term out because of the loyalty and respect I have for the players, the Chairman, the staff and all the supporters.
“We had a fantastic season and it is a big incentive to compete in the AFC Champions League again next year.
“Already my main focus is on recruitment for next season but also next week against Nagoya (Grampus) in Japan."
“It’s been a tough decision and I am hugely flattered by the interest I received from Sydney FC."
He added: “I am very grateful to Gary Cole from Sydney who has been extremely professional, understanding and respectful throughout this process."
Central Coast Mariners Chairman Peter Turnbull welcomed the decision and added: “The board, staff and players are all delighted Graham has decided to continue his outstanding work at the club.”