Getting crowds of 5k at Somers St would have the place rocking and at least make the games enticing to go to.Western United float idea of double-headers with City or Victory
By Michael Lynch
December 31, 2019 — 1.11pm
Could Western United stage games at AAMI Park next season as part of a double-header set-up alongside Melbourne Victory or Melbourne City?
Don't rule it out. Nor games at Footscray's Whitten Oval - which could be a match venue at some point later this season - or even at an NPL club like Melbourne Knights, whom many expected Western to tie up with in the first place.
Double-headers - if A-League bosses were to give them the go-ahead - are just one of a number of radical ideas the A-League's newest franchise is kicking about as it looks to match its on-field success off the pitch, where so far it has struggled to attract fans and gain cut-through.
The club, says CEO Chris Pehlivanis, has the licence to think outside the square, consider all options and attempt radical solutions while it waits for all the permits to be granted and construction of its planned new stadium in Tarneit to begin.
The proposal to build its own football specific stadium was essentially what made the FFA board plump for Western's bid ahead of the more-widely expected Team 11 from Dandenong when the A-League looked to expand to a third team in Melbourne.
The fact that construction has not begun is causing plenty of scepticism - something Pehlivanis acknowledges.
"Of course there are sceptical people. There always are in this game. But we have to keep planning and while we are waiting for it to be built we are looking at different ways to attract fans and consolidate our position in the west of Melbourne and Victoria," he said.
"We were very pleased with the crowd and the atmosphere we got playing at Mars Stadium in Ballarat last weekend and we are looking to build up our supporter base in the west."
Pehlevanis confirmed that negotiations to play some games this season at Whitten Oval are well advanced.
"We are looking at every option. There's the Bulldogs, we would look at any rectangular stadium in the west," he says, agreeing that the Knights venue at Somers Street could still come into play.
But it is the notion of double-headers that is the most radical kite he and his club are flying.
"We could even look at double-headers," he said. "That used to happen in the old days. Why couldn't fans who enjoy football get the chance to watch two games in one day in one stadium?
"It would depend on who you were playing. It's just an idea to throw up. We are a new club and we can try a lot of different things. Just because they are new doesn't mean they won't work or shouldn't be tried. We can try anything.
"We are exploring all options. I will definitely have another chat to the Knights and explore everything."
Whatever Western ends up doing will have to suit the FFA and particularly the broadcaster, Fox Sports, who require certain standards to be met in terms of floodlighting and advertising space for games to be staged at specific venues.
Many have argued that Western should do a deal with the Knights, a club which owns its own ground and is situated in the heartland of Melbourne's western suburbs.
It is understood the Knights did offer itself as a home from home for the first couple of seasons on condition that Western footed the bill for ground and infrastructure upgrades (including office space which the new club could have had to itself) in the first year, along with naming rights on match days and profits from food and drink sales.
In subsequent seasons it wanted rental of $200,000 a season for use of the stadium on match days and for training purposes until Western's own new venue was completed.
But no agreement was reached and Western opted for Geelong instead.
A deal with the Bulldogs could be done early in the new year if both are convinced an agreement makes financial sense.
Lev Shevki, a United board member and financial backer, is also on the Bulldogs board.
"Whatever we do we have to ensure that it's a fit-for-purpose venue but we will explore any option that might look attractive," Pehlivanis says.
GMHBA Stadium is a cavernous venue which is simply too big for the small home crowds that the team is currently attracting, leading to a dead and debilitating atmosphere.
So far Western has only picked up seven points out of a possible 21 playing at its home venue, perhaps a reflection of the lack of atmosphere there. On the road it is a different story, where Mark Rudan's side has gained 10 points out of 15 available.
Between now and the end of the regular season on April 26 there are only three matches scheduled for Western at GMHBA Stadium with the last due to be played in round 21, against the Mariners.
In that period it is also slotted in to play two more games in Ballarat.
Its draw has been heavily loaded to ensure it got a lot of games in Geelong early in the campaign, to help it build its identity in the west but also to ensure that it wouldn't be there when the footy pre-season got underway.
Western United are prepared to think outside the square to build its fan base and play at suitable-sized venues, including double-headers at AAMI Park.www.theage.com.au
Double headers sound ridiculous. Maybe they should have opted for that Knights deal at Somer street in the first place.
Geelong was never gonna work unless it was an actual Geelong Franchise!
Somers St needs a serious amount of work to be up to A-League standard. It’s fun for NPL games, but the ground is no different to what it was like in NSL days, when the stadium requirements were far less onerous.Getting crowds of 5k at Somers St would have the place rocking and at least make the games enticing to go to.
Committing to 200k per year rent seems like a low risk business move compared to the associated costs with a 36,000 oval.
Half way through their first season and already aching for a home and an identity. This franchise was such a sh*t idea.Western United to host Hyundai A-League football at VU Whitten Oval in Footscray on Australia Day
Western United Football Club is delighted to announce VU Whitten Oval will host an official Hyundai A-League game for the very first time when the Green and Black play at the Footscray venue on Australia Day.
Western United will host reigning FFA Cup holders Adelaide United in a Round 16 Hyundai A-League clash at VU Whitten Oval in Footscray on January 26 (KO 6pm local time).
Playing at the Footscray venue is part of Western United’s vision to bring top-class football to as many fans in the West as possible. VU Whitten Oval joins Geelong and Ballarat as areas to showcase Western United as a club that represents the entire Western region in the A-League.
“Western United is a club that brings top-class football to the whole community of the greater West, which is why the Green and Black are playing in Geelong and Ballarat this season and have plans in place for a boutique stadium in Tarneit,” said club CEO Chris Pehlivanis.
“We will continue to be a club for all who call the West home as we take this journey together.
“Relocating our Hyundai A-League Round 16 fixture to Whitten Oval gives the club’s growing fanbase an opportunity to taste the Hyundai A-League at another family friendly, community venue in the West.
“We look forward to seeing our fans from across the West at Whitten Oval, which will host Hyundai A-League football for the very first time.”
Western United have partnered with the Western Bulldogs.
The Round 16 A-League game will kick-off at 6pm on January 26, while the Bulldogs’ AFL players are on the Sunshine Coast for their annual pre-season camp.
“Hosting A-League football at VU Whitten Oval is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the broad capability of our venue and to connect with a new audience,” said Bulldogs’ CEO Ameet Bains.
“We have been able to create a unique, family-friendly atmosphere for sporting events we have hosted at VU Whitten Oval, particularly in the summer months at our AFLW matches.
“We were pleased to work with Western United to make this game happen on Australia Day, and we look forward to helping them to ensure the event is a success.”
A share of the proceeds the Bulldogs make from hosting the event will be contributed to the communities impacted by the bushfires across Australia. Western United will match this amount.
Western United Football Club is delighted to announce VU Whitten Oval will host an official Hyundai A-League game for the very first time when the Green and Black play at the Footscray venue on Australia Day. Western United will host reigning FFA Cup holders Adelaide United in a Round 16...www.wufc.com.au
Well how else can they put it? They are getting desperate and from reports I've heard money is drying up too.I love how they're trying to play this off as a good thing.
Foxtel had a $$$ bonus for expansion sides being in Melb and Sydney to create derbies which is why Geelong named and based side was never in the equation.What a shambles, what was wrong with establishing this club in Geelong? At least people there would've been able to identify with them and they would've had a home. Macarthur should've also been in Wollongong (at least they have a home ground though).
In that case can't understand why Team 11 didn't get up. It had absolutely massive grassroots support and plans for a multipurpose stadium next to Dandenong Station. They had Casey fields lined up as a temporary venue to play at.Foxtel had a $$$ bonus for expansion sides being in Melb and Sydney to create derbies which is why Geelong named and based side was never in the equation.
Gallops comment was along the lines that the game would look unprofessional if it was held at Casey Field or something as stupid as that.In that case can't understand why Team 11 didn't get up. It had absolutely massive grassroots support and plans for a multipurpose stadium next to Dandenong Station. They had Casey fields lined up as a temporary venue to play at.
There is a link in the expansion thread on a study made on the bid that Highlights all its flaws and it was ranked as the worst bid.Club was a dumb idea from the start (and only got in on willingness to pay FFA millions) but cracks after 3 months truly is pathetic.
Actually all they had to do was follow the afl expansion process in South Australia.The history of the A-League is quite the litany of incompetence from the FFA. The repeated short-sightedness in their decision-making is a major contributor to the struggles the A-League faces today.
From day one, the "one club, one city" immediately made Melbourne, in particular, a difficult prospect to expand the game. As a result, the first round of expansion went to Townsville and Gold Coast, because they had already locked themselves out of the Sydney and Melbourne markets (and because they were gullible enough to trust Clive Palmer was actually invested in the game).
If/once we see some tangible progress toward the Tarneit stadium, I'd imagine a lot of the criticism around Western United will subside. But I agree with previous posts that said Team 11 were the logical choice - I never thought the western suburbs bid was even in contention until it was announced.
I'll be interested to see where to now for expansion, now that the FFA have been removed from the equation.