A turf war in Melbourne is set to get nasty after an A-League club locked in home fixtures at a local rival’s ground without an official agreement.
A football fight is looming after Victorian powerhouse South Melbourne FC declared it will block plans for A-League club Western United to play home games at Lakeside Stadium – South Melbourne’s home ground.
Western United is yet to build the new venue required as part of its A-League license and has scheduled seven home matches throughout the 2021/22 season to be played at the famous Albert Park ground.
But officials from South Melbourne, which lost a bid to join the A-League in 2018 when Western United was picked ahead of them, have claimed they were never consulted about the A-League using their venue and will “vigorously oppose” the plan.
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South Melbourne, which plays in the National Premier League, issued a strongly worded statement after the A-League fixtures were released on Thursday, declaring the club would not let a “direct competitor” use its home stomping ground.
“Executives at Lakeside Stadium and Melbourne Sports Centres have advised South Melbourne FC that contrary to the announcement made by Western United FC, there is no written or signed agreement in place with Western United FC or the Australian Professional Leagues to allow Western United FC access to Lakeside Stadium for the 2021/22 A-League Season,” the statement read.
“South Melbourne considers Western United to be a direct competitor in the Melbourne, Victorian and Australian football market.
“Their acceptance to the A-League was based largely on the commitment to having a purpose-built football stadium constructed in Melbourne’s west.
“It is approaching three years since the A-League expansion clubs were announced and construction works have still not commenced.
“Western United’s use of Lakeside Stadium is not acceptable and South Melbourne FC will vigorously oppose any such plans.
“South Melbourne can confirm that it will be exercising all rights to prevent Western United FC from playing A-League matches at Lakeside Stadium.”
South Melbourne is one of Australia’s most storied football clubs, having achieved significant success in the NSL.
The club was one of six bids named for consideration to become an expansion club in the A-League in 2018, however it lost out to Western United and Macarthur FC.
Western United did announce on Wednesday it would commence work on the Wyndham City Stadium in the week beginning on October 25, but does not have full planning approval for the boutique stadium.