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FFA partners with Australian Red Cross

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has announced a partnership with the Australian Red Cross to support those who are most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia.

FFA will use its platforms to connect its network and profile to assist the Red Cross in their efforts to respond to the effect the outbreak has had on community wellbeing.

FFA CEO James Johnson said: “We are very glad to be working with Australian Red Cross on this important initiative.

“We will work together connecting people online to share essential tools and tips to give all Australians practical ways to support each other, maintain their wellbeing, and stay safely connected.

“We will ask younger people across our network to promote the importance of practicing social distancing, washing hands and staying at home to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Finally, we may, as this situation evolves, be called upon to help Red Cross with critical volunteering gaps in essential services and to scale their response to COVID-19 as necessary. We look forward to contributing to this important work.

“The strength of our game lies in our community and our job will be to provide our participants with a link to the Australian Red Cross to contribute online and in other digital ways to support vulnerable Australians under the guidance of an expert partner in this field. We are delighted that football, in a whole of game effort, can commit this platform to Australian Red Cross and support them in their campaign to help Australians in need.”

“We are fortunate to have some of Australian football’s most respected people supporting this initiative, and we would like to thank Tara Rushton, Lucy Zelic, Mel McLaughlin, Mark Bosnich, Jade North, and Craig Foster for their contributions to date. The initiative also has the support of our State and Territory Member Federations, and I would especially like to acknowledge Football NSW Chairman Anter Isaac and Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos for their contributions,” he said.

Working with the Australian Federal and State Governments, the Australian Red Cross are helping the mental health of those most susceptible to the pandemic.

Australian Red Cross Director of Volunteering Penny Harrison said: “As we all work to flatten the curve, as a community we must look out for each other, and especially those who are most isolated and vulnerable during this unprecedented time.

“Working with FFA means we can tap into the power of football and work with its amazing and diverse community of members and fans to support more Australians who are facing this crisis alone. This is the power of humanity in action.”

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Western United announce Lakeside Stadium as one of four home grounds – challenge issued by South Melbourne

Western United FC has announced that they will play home fixtures out of Lakeside Stadium in season 2021/22, only for South Melbourne FC to challenge the announcement hours later.

United, which made a long-awaited update on the construction of its new stadium yesterday, released a statement this morning confirming that Lakeside Stadium – home of NPL outfit and unsuccessful A-League licence bidder South Melbourne – will be included in its rotation of home games this season.

The club announced that Lakeside will host seven home games for the A-League side in 2021/22 season, the first of which will come against Perth Glory on Friday, November 26 in Round 2.

However, South Melbourne has moved quickly to challenge the announcement.

Western United had revealed Lakeside Stadium as one of its home grounds for the 2021/22 season, with a written statement on the club’s website.

“United had limited options for the season due to the lack of rectangular stadiums in Melbourne, and the requirement that stadiums must meet the minimum A-League venue standards,” the statement reads.

“Several other options were investigated during the process but did not materialise as viable. This included Knights Stadium in Sunshine which unfortunately required significant infrastructure investment to meet A-League standards.

“United was keen to continue playing at AAMI Park as per the 2020/21 season, but this option was heavily opposed by cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City, despite being the only rectangular stadium in Melbourne that meets all requirements to host an A-League game.

“Lakeside Stadium was selected for several reasons including being easily accessible both on public transport and on road networks with ample parking for United fans based in the west of Melbourne. It is also a purpose-built football stadium that can be adapted to meet to A-League standards, which was a critical factor in the decision-making process.”

South Melbourne has since directly challenged that any agreement is in place at all.

“South Melbourne FC notes the announcement by Western United FC of its intention to use Lakeside Stadium for a select number of games in the 2021/22 A-League Season,” the NPL club noted in a statement.

“Lakeside Stadium and Albert Park is the home of South Melbourne FC and has been for over 60 years. Our licencing arrangements with Lakeside Stadium and the State Government ensures it will remain this way for decades to come.

“South Melbourne FC has a stadium, we have a home and we are proud to call it our own.

“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.

“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.

“The club will provide its members, players, parents and supporters with further updates as information is available.”

Whilst the South Melbourne statement alleges that “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 official Melbourne Sports Centres account did retweet the Western United announcement earlier in the day.

The tweet has since been deleted.

In a written statement released earlier in the day, Western United confirmed that the club considered a range of alternative venues but was met with a wide range of challenges, including from AAMI Park anchor tenants and cross-town rivals, Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory.

Western United CEO Chris Pehlivanis explained the ill-fated search for a suitable rectangular stadium west of Melbourne’s CBD was a vital reminder of the importance of the club’s stadium and precinct project in Wyndham.

“We’ve been working hard to find the best home ground for us, which is not a simple process in a complex sporting environment topped with a global pandemic,” he said.

“Unfortunately, what we want and what our members tell us they want – a rectangular pitch to A-League standard located in the west of Melbourne – doesn’t exist. That’s why we are building Wyndham City Stadium.

“For this season, we wanted to build a home ground advantage that would not only benefit us on the pitch but provide the best solution for a great fan experience for our loyal members and fans that have been with us from the beginning.

“We’re really lucky as a club, we have tough, relentless and dedicated fans that I know will stick on this journey with us through the tough times as we build towards being a great club for the west for generations to come.”

Western Melbourne Group to begin works for Wyndham City Stadium

Western Melbourne Group (WMG) has given a key update on plans for the Wyndham City Stadium and its surrounding precinct.

Western Melbourne Group (WMG) has given a key update on plans for the Wyndham City Stadium and its surrounding precinct.

WMG, the parent company of Western United FC – has committed to the week commencing October 25, 2021 as the time to get construction underway for the new stadium – based at Leakes Road in Tarneit.

Situated 600 metres west of the Leakes and Sewell Road intersection, the early works will see the construction of the site’s haul road to create access to the stadium site for construction vehicles, as well as upgrades to Leakes Road and construction of the interim Ison Road.

Early works are able to proceed while the stadium and the surrounding precinct’s Concept Master Plan awaits the tick of approval. This plan was submitted to the Victorian State Government in July.

Refreshed timeframes have also been established, given the unpredictable nature of COVID-19.

“We thank all of our stakeholders, members and fans for their unwavering support as we continue to work hard on delivering a world-class precinct,” WMG Chairman Jason Sourasis said in a statement on WU’s official website.

“Over the past two pandemic affected years, the club has grown enormously to not only field an A-League team but to include a youth academy with two teams playing in the Victorian NPL, securing a W-League licence for the 2022/23 season, the establishment of a women’s development program, as well as Frame Football and Powerchair teams.

“Whilst the planning process has taken longer than we had hoped, it is vitally important we get the masterplan for the whole precinct right from the start.

“The precinct will allow for the continued growth of our sporting organisation as we expand our academies and pathways further, as well as building a sporting centrepiece for the rapidly growing population in the west of Melbourne.

“This project will shift the professional sporting landscape, as it is the first of its kind in our country. In addition to the sporting legacy, our project gives the west of Melbourne a social and economic boost, which is much needed in these challenging times.”

Additional information on Western Melbourne Group’s project can be viewed via their website here.

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