Central Coast Mariners can follow Newcastle Jets blueprint - Lawrie McKinna
Lawrie McKinna is hopeful the club he once guided to a premiership can follow Newcastle's blueprint and climb out of the doldrums in the near future.
Before he was plotting the Jets' path back to A-League prominence, McKinna was the heart and soul of their arch-rivals.
It feels like a lifetime ago now, the way the Central Coast Mariners have fallen on such hard times.
But this season's wooden spooners were once the feel-good story of the competition.
McKinna was the face of it in the early days of the A-League, helping establish the Mariners as a community-focused club that would always punch above its weight and guiding them to first position in season 2007-08.
But Central Coast's slow, steady downfall can be traced back to the moment Mike Charlesworth took over as majority owner in 2013.
McKinna had been squeezed out of the football department after a restructure but took up a role as a club ambassador.
But in late 2014, unhappy with the direction the Mariners were heading in amid fears they would move some home games to Sydney, McKinna decided to cut all official ties with the club.
It was a hugely symbolic moment, considering he was also Gosford's mayor.
"You can flog a dead horse but I wasn't wanted at the club," McKinna told AAP.
"I'd offered my services for free, I would do whatever I was asked for the club.
"It was just time to move on. I moved on, and it's worked out well for me."
Indeed it has.
McKinna served as mayor for more than three years but was removed when the Gosford and Wyong councils amalgamated in 2016.
Around the same time, he was the middleman in talks between FFA and Chinese businessman Martin Lee over the purchase of the Jets.
When the sale was completed, he became Newcastle's CEO -- but he admits he still has a soft spot for the Mariners and always will.
New coach Mike Mulvey has a big rebuilding task head of them as he seeks to turn a side that has won just 13 matches in the last three seasons into a force once again.
"The proof is in the pudding, what can be done at that club," McKinna said.
"So if they get things in order, get a few results -- they don't need to win the league, or get into the Grand Final like we do.
"The punters in Newcastle and Central Coast are very similar. They want a competitive team."