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Western United to play Australia Day fixture at Whitten Oval

On Friday, newly formed A-League club Western United announced that they would host their match against Adelaide United at the Whitten Oval.

The match, set to take place on Australia Day (January 26) will mark the third AFL ground that Mark Rudan’s side has used this season as a home venue.

Previously to this, Mars Stadium in Ballarat and GMBHA Stadium in Geelong have been used.

On paper, this is a perfect move for the expansion club. Their match against the Reds will mark their first official match to take place in western Melbourne, opposed to greater western Victoria.

Their stadium in Tarneit is on course for a 2021 completion, so obviously until then, they need to make do with what’s available.

But now, they finally have a chance to play in front of the people who were their targeted demographic from day one.

The Whitten Oval is a great location in itself, having played host to large scale AFLW games and consistent seasons of the VFL. So the ground will be up to scratch for 90 minutes of A-League football.

Currently, the AFL, AFLW and VFL are in their off-seasons, so there is no risk of any clash between AFL side the Western Bulldogs and Western United.

There was only a minor risk of clash between the match and any pre-season training for the Bulldogs. But thankfully, the 2016 AFL premiers are on a training camp up north on the Sunshine Coast at the time of Australia Day.

In an article from The Age, United CEO Chris Pehlivanis and Western Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains echoed each other’s thoughts on the prospect of A-League football at Whitten.

“We will continue to be a club for all who call the west home as we take this journey together,” Pehlivanis said.

“Relocating our round 16 fixture to Whitten Oval gives the club’s growing fanbase an opportunity to taste the A-League at another family friendly, community venue in the west.”

“Hosting A-League football at Whitten Oval is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the broad capability of our venue and to connect with a new audience,” said Bains.

“We have been able to create a unique, family-friendly atmosphere for sporting events we have hosted at Whitten Oval, particularly in the summer months at our AFLW matches.”

United’s start to the season has been a mixed bag, both on and off the field.

Many A-League fans would agree in us saying that it’s a nice breath of fresh air to have a new side, boasting new names as well as some familiar faces in the competition.

Their on field performance has been decent. They currently sit in fifth on the A-League table and despite some disappointing results as of late, they remain firmly in contention for a finals berth in their inaugural season.

That in itself is a remarkable achievement, should Alessandro Diamanti and co. get it done.

But off the field, there has been a struggle for numbers, particularly at home games.

They currently hold the second-lowest attendance record in the competition this season, averaging a measly 6,225 per game. They also hold the record for lowest attendance at a single game this season.

In their round nine encounter against Sydney FC, a mere 4,187 fans clicked through the turnstiles in Geelong as the reigning champions of the A-League ran out 2-0 winners.

Understandably, as a new side it’s tough to acquire fans from the get-go and to establish genuine connections with fans will take time. Poor on-field results would go a long way to diminishing any hopes of that.

But with time and the opening of their new stadium in the near future, it’s a simple case of staying the course for Pehlivanis and co.

This match on Australia Day in the heart of Melbourne’s inner-western suburbs could do a world of good for Western. With tickets reportedly going for as little as $6, it could be the beginning of a wonderful new relationship between them and the Western Bulldogs.

Fingers crossed for them that regardless of the on-field result, they have a good showing from their fans and any neutrals who watch them as well.

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

Football Victoria promotion denial set for challenge

Football Victoria has announced that it will only be filling existing vacancies, resisting the challenge from the United Football Group of Clubs to push ahead with promotion and relegation.

Football Victoria has announced that it will only be filling existing vacancies, resisting the challenge from the United Football Group of Clubs to push ahead with promotion and relegation.

Football Victoria announced the cancellation of the remainder of the season in Metropolitan Melbourne on September 3 2021, in which it also revealed that promotion and relegation would not proceed.

Since that announcement, over 40 clubs had joined forces, assembling under the United Football Group of Clubs (United Football) banner, to challenge the decision.

As revealed by Soccerscene last month, United Football made a formal submission to Football Victoria, presenting three options for consideration by the board:

  1. Promotion and Recognition of Champions based on current standings or points per matches played method, with or without relegation.
  2. Restructure of the leagues to achieve the desired effect of promotion/relegation, completed in line with the 2021 Football Australia Performance Gap Report.
  3. Align with Football Victoria principles and fixture the outstanding games between teams who have not played against each other to complete the season and award promotion and relegation. Given the current COVID situation, it is recognised that this may be the least likely scenario.

In its announcement this afternoon, Football Victoria has seemingly turned down all three options.

“Football Victoria (FV) can confirm it will proceed with filling existing and resulting vacancies across our Men’s and Women’s State League competitions, in accordance with the 2021 Rules of Competition,” reads the statement on the Football Victoria website.

“Under item 10.4 in the Men’s State League (1-4) and item 15.7 in the Women’s State League (1-4) 2021 Rules of Competition, the FV Board confirms that vacancies will be filled using the Order of Merit process. Men’s & Women’s State League 5 competition vacancies will be filled by using the New Club Application or Team Entry process.

“With the 2021 season being deemed incomplete, only Men’s and Women’s State League vacancies will be filled in 2022, with NPL Victoria optimal league structures to be considered from the 2023 season.

“Average Points Per Game (total points divided by number of games played) at the point the 2021 season was cancelled will be used to determine final ladder positions in 2021 and inform the Order of Merit. Further detail on the Order of Merit process is available here.”

The ruling means that the current NPL Victoria structure will remain in place, whilst in the State Leagues below, only existing vacancies will be filled.

In the Men’s State Leagues, one team across State Leagues 2, 3, 4 and 5 will be promoted, whilst four teams will enter State League 5 via a new club application process.

In the Women’s competition, one team will be promoted from State League 2 to 1, two will be promoted from State League 3 to 2, three teams will be promoted from State League 4 to 3, four teams will be promoted from State League 5 to 4, whilst five new clubs will enter State League 5 via a new club application process.

The Football Victoria statement sets a deadline of 5pm Monday October 25, 2021 to implement these changes.

The United Football Group of Clubs met last night to discuss the decision, with chairperson Zak Gruevski confirming the clubs intend to take the matter further.

“The Football Victoria statement yesterday effectively dismissed the range of options put forward by the United Football Group of Clubs,” he told Soccerscene.

“As a group, we are very disappointed and believe this decision is not in the best interests of the game, particularly given indications that a restructure of the game was being considered as a reasonable outcome.

“Our clubs met overnight and we are seeking the appropriate counsel to pursue this matter further.”

Granville & District Soccer Football Association announce brand-new X-League

GDSFA

The Granville & District Soccer Football Association (GDSFA) have announced the creation of a new top tier local Men’s Seniors competition, named the X-League.

Kicking off in March of 2022, the GDSFA will be looking to play 22 rounds of football competition each and every Friday evenings across the Granville Association. In addition, there are a number of exciting initiatives that the organisers have thrown into the mix to assure that this will be one of the most appealing local Senior Men’s competition across NSW.

Such incentives include:

  • Livestream Broadcast & Commentary of ‘Match of the Round’
  • Local officials and talent officiating matches
  • 2 Leagues (X-League 1 and X-League 2)
  • 12 Teams in each league
  • Single Team format of up to 20 players per team
  • Promotion and Relegation
  • Prize Money for Premiers and Champions
  • Season Launch Party with special guest
  • End of Season Player & Team Awards Evening
  • Entry into Australia’s oldest knockout competition “The Cottam Cup”
  • NPL Opportunities
  • ‘Match of the Round’ played at the legendary Melita Stadium home of the Parramatta Eagles FC

Granville & District Soccer FA’s General Manager Scott Sadler was looking forward to the new challenge of this concept, that was struck up with a few local and passionate Club administrators wanting to promote, collaborate and deliver new ways of getting more people interested with the world game.

“Back in May, myself and Joe Bacha (Rydalmere FC’s First Grade Coach) met at a café to catch up and chew the fat over the state of play of GDSFA football,” Sadler said.

“As many will know it’s not been an easy ride for them over the last few years, and Joe wanted to bring some of his observations and ideas on how we could improve our Men’s Premier League given we had gone from having 10 teams in the 2020 season and reduced to six in the 2021 season.

“Rydalmere FC have shown great character in rebuilding their club culture and in turn they have seen the fruits of their labour with a fantastic facility being constructed. We started to get some ideas down on paper and the ball was rolling, but Covid lockdown reared its ugly head for round 2 and so we got stuck into battening down the hatches.

“A working group was eventually formed, and the brainstorming sessions commenced every Wednesday, and are still ongoing looking at how we could make the Men’s Premiership Competition more viable and inclusive for all clubs to get involved.

“It has been great to watch the clubs coming together and collaborating on ideas, and between them they have come up with the concept of the X-League.”

Even though the league will be open to Men’s for the 2022 season, the Association has stated that plans are underway to offer this league concept towards the Women and Youth clubs in the football mad area.

“We are definitely looking at expanding in both the Women’s and Youth sectors once we get the Men’s off the ground in 2022 as that has always been our intention,” they said.

“GDSFA is the OG of football within Australia, we may not have done everything right along the way, but we have helped to shape football in some way shape or form.

“With the X-League, we are wanting to offer grassroots football a high standard of football for a very competitive membership fee, giving value for money for each player involved.”

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