Should Western United Consider Playing Games at Knights Stadium?

On Australia Day, Western United hosted Adelaide United at the Whitten Oval.

The match was an instant classic, with seven goals being scored as the Reds eventually won 4-3, thanks to a late goal from Nathan Konstandopoulos.

The Reds scored three in the first 18 minutes before Mark Rudan’s side turned it around to have it at 3-3 early in the second half.

The Whitten Oval was praised for its competency to host an A-League fixture, with many fans and industry experts pleading that they begin playing there more regularly.

On paper, that makes perfect sense.

It’s in the heart of the western suburbs of Melbourne, it has a boutique stadium feel and fans can begin identifying with the location for fixtures here on out.

However, despite all of this, there is still a large contingent of people who believe Western United could utilise someplace else and to better effect.

For anyone who followed the NSL or currently follows the NPL in Victoria, Somers Street would sound awfully familiar and for good reason.

Knights Stadium is one of the most prestigious stadiums across all NPL leagues in Australia. It can hold 15,000 people and it also sits in the heart of western Melbourne.

The ground is in pristine condition all year round and to this day, it remains one of the most historic soccer grounds in Melbourne.

Many soccer fans online are lobbying for Western to play A-League fixtures at the home of the Melbourne Knights as their brand new stadium nears completion.

So far, Western have used three Australian Rules football grounds as their home grounds in A-League games, with the Whitten Oval the most recent.

Mars Stadium in Ballarat and GMHBA Stadium in Geelong are the other two, with opinion split on whether those locations have been successful thus far.

This divisiveness has led to many feeling change is needed in the short term, prior to that new stadium. The Whitten Oval certainly did a fine job of hosting the Australia Day clash and the partnership between Western United and AFL club the Western Bulldogs could certainly continue if the ground endures sustained success.

Knights Stadium could provide a similar, if not better experience for Western United and their fans should the club play there.

But there are two factors which may potentially be leaving them a little indecisive.

Firstly, utilising public transport to get to Knights Stadium is rather challenging. Driving to get to and from the ground would be the best bet for anyone attending.

But for those who perhaps don’t have licenses or who are too young to drive, it’s much different.

For example, for Flinders Street Station, it’s at best, one hour through two different forms of transport and then a healthy walk to the ground.

Then, there’s also the simple fact that the ground is in Sunshine North.

The western suburbs of Melbourne have garnered a rather unfair reputation of being notoriously dangerous, especially at night. Granted, they’re not perfect, but many fans will not want to be venturing to the ground on their own.

Despite being smack bang in the middle of the western suburbs, the general location of Knights Stadium is probably what is stopping Western United from playing matches there.

The Whitten Oval and its accessibility are infinitely better.

Transport to the ground is very easy, with only a 20 minute train ride from Flinders Street Station followed by a five minute walk to the ground in a populated area.

For comparison, the walk from Jolimont Station to the MCG, something that is done regularly by AFL fans during the AFL season, is also five minutes and in a populated area.

What are your thoughts on the use of the Whitten Oval for Western United games? Are you for or against it?

Do you feel that Knights Stadium would be a better fit for Mark Rudan’s side? Let us know on Twitter @Soccersceneau and get in on the conversation.

 

 

 

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Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Western United working with Lifeline Western Melbourne to battle mental health in the local community

Western United and Lifeline Western Melbourne

Western United announced Lifeline Western Melbourne as the Club’s Charity Partner for the 2023/24 season in a bid to tackle mental health in the local community.

Western United, with the help from current Premier Partner Victoria University, will connect with Lifeline Western Melbourne with the goal to reinforce their core club value of helping the community battle any mental health problems.

The partnership will include mental health training and specific classes throughout the season to assist club staff and players.

Recently at the Liberty A-League Women’s, the club put together a sausage sizzle at City Vista where all proceeds would go directly to Lifeline Western Melbourne.

Lifeline is a network with 41 centres, 10,000 volunteers and 1,000 employees who provide mental health support and build new infrastructure for those in need in the community.

Each year, over one million Australians reach out to Lifeline for support, with mental health illness recognised as the second highest stipulated disease affecting people in Tarneit, making this an important issue at the heart of Western United’s work on and off the football pitch.

Western United General Manager of Commercial Chris Speldewinde explained the club’s core focus on the mental side of life amongst the local community.

“We acknowledge the role we can play in supporting our western Melbourne community and we are thrilled to be partnering with Lifeline Western Melbourne to tackle mental health,” Speldewinde said in a Western United statement.

“It has been great to bring this partnership to life through support from our Premier Partner Victoria University and now Principal Partner Sharp EIT Solutions, highlighting the significant role Lifeline Western Melbourne plays in our local community.”

Michael Parker, Lifeline Head of Corporate and Community Partnerships, expressed his gratitude towards Western United for their help and support through this partnership.

“Lifeline Western Melbourne is delighted to be working alongside Western United as Charity Partner for season 2023/24. At Lifeline, we work in the community for the community, so it is great to be aligning with an organisation who shares such a strong commitment to supporter and mental health and wellbeing of the local community,” Parker said in a Lifeline statement.

“We believe it is vital for Lifeline Western Melbourne to partner with organisations like Western United to ensure we play our part in supporting people with their mental health and wellbeing.”

It’s fantastic to see another A-League club take the initiative to partner with such a committed company like Lifeline to tackle the important mental health issues that affect so many in the local community.

To express interest in Lifeline’s Crisis Supporter Training, contact Lifeline at ldtraining@lifeline.org.au.

If you or anyone you know needs support or if this story has caused you any distress, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Western United deal with Smeg to elevate the Tarneit Regional Football Facility

Western United Regional Football Facility

Western United are collaborating with global household appliances brand Smeg in a bid to enhance the Regional Football Facility in Tarneit after signing on a two-year partnership agreement.

In October of 2023, Western United were given the green light by the Wyndham City Council to play A-League Men matches at the Regional Football Facility for a select few matches in the 2023/24 season.

Whilst United prepares for its move into the new headquarters soon, Smeg have been tasked with the role to amplify the facility with their appliances and design.

As part of the agreement, Smeg will also have their branding present on LED signage at all home games for the rest of this current season and the next.

Smeg is the home of Italian appliances, brining an Italian style and  state of the art technology to become a world leader in creating kitchen appliances.

Smeg aims to identify and reflect the defining characteristics of Italian design, such as inventive elegance, originality and product quality.

Western United General Manager of Commercial Chris Speldewinde explained the reasoning behind the collaboration to improve the facility.

“We are very excited to team up with Smeg. The excellence in coffee machines, combi ovens and dishwashers gives our new precinct the highest standards possible,” he said in a Western United press release.

“The Smeg brand will be seen on matchday LED, big screen and video content with players and coaches. We thank the guys from Smeg for the incredible support.”

Smeg Australia General Manager – Professional Division Leon Wolf expressed his excitement at being called upon to improve the Regional Football Facility in the west.

“Smeg are excited to partner with Western United to create an environment that helps nurture and develop regional football,” Wolf added via press release.

“We look forward to seeing the development of the Tarneit facilities, creating a hub for regional football development.”

The partnership between both parties is a fantastic idea as Western United quickly close in on calling Tarneit their home, with Smeg providing a different style and definitive, international quality appliances to the facility.

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