South Melbourne stand firm to stop Western United’s Lakeside Stadium move
Western United are adamant being kicked out of Lakeside Stadium and instead play at AAMI Park is a ‘better outcome’ for the club.
Western United’s return to AAMI Park after being kicked out of Lakeside Stadium by NPL Victoria team and A-League aspirants South Melbourne is a “great outcome” for both clubs.
That’s the opinion of South Melbourne chairman Bill Papastergiadis after his club won a battle against United, who last month announced they would play seven home matches this season at Lakeside Stadium in Melbourne’s Albert Park precinct.
United had got approval to play home matches the stadium from the State Sports Centres Trust, which controls the precinct.
However, somebody forgot to tell South Melbourne, Lakeside Stadium’s main tenant, and they immediately sought to block United’s move.
And after talks with the SSCT, the former National Soccer League club was successful in preventing United becoming a co-tenant.
United will now play that seven home games that had been scheduled for Lakeside Stadium at the more modern and attractive AAMI Park, the home ground the A-League rivals Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory.
While it won’t please City or Victory, who weren’t happy when United played five home games at AAMI Park last season, United chief executive Chris Pehlivanis was adamant his club had got the “better outcome” after talks with the Victorian government.
“AAMI Park has better facilities and doesn’t have an athletics track around it,” he said.
However, Pehlivanis hinted that United might have had a legal foothold had they elected to fight the decision.
“We thought it was best not to drag it through the courts,” he said.
United have plans to build a 15,000-seat purpose-built stadium in Tarneit, west of Melbourne, but have yet to commence construction.
The club will also play home matches this season in Geelong, Ballarat and Launceston.
Papastergiadis wished United well for the A-League season.
“This is a great outcome for both clubs,” Papastergiadis said.
“AAMI Park is a good place for Western United to play matches.
“We want to preserve our good relationship with them.”
Papastergiadis said South Melbourne were intent on eventually playing A-League football.
The club’s first target is admission into a national second division competition.
“We’re hopeful of that starting in 2022 and then from there, the introduction of promotion and relegation will help teams achieve their A-League dreams,” Papastergiadis said.