West Melbourne aims to be first Aussie football club to own stadium

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SYDNEY, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — West Melbourne Group (WMG) believe their plan to build a privately funded 15,000-seat stadium might be enough to see them included in Australia’s top flight football division.

With 10 teams already in the A-League, in the 2019-2020 season, the competition will expand to include two more clubs.

Although there are eight other sides still vying for a place in the premier division, former Australian national team defender and WMG spokesman Steve Horvat said on Friday to local media that becoming the first Aussie team to have its own stadium would set them apart from the other bids.

“The existing model, whether it be at current A-League clubs or aspirants, involves them being one of many tenants,” he said.

“As we’ve seen in the past that often means being left with a pitch chewed up by another code or event leading up to a game, not to mention the high cost of renting these venues. Most A-League clubs, barring Melbourne Victory, lose money every time they play a home game.”

As well as the big money backing the A-League proposal from a business consortium, the area is also becoming a hotbed of young football talent.

With an extremely diverse international community, the rate of participation for children aged five to 14 has recently risen in West Melbourne by 43 percent.

As a result, the local government authority, Wyndham Council, has also put their support behind the proposal for the new team.

“Owning a stadium isn’t just about bragging rights, it’s about harnessing these crucial revenue streams,” Horvat said.

“We talk about clubs being sustainable but it’s very hard to run a business when your customers, the fans, spend money and you only get to keep the gate receipts and merchandise sales.”

The two successful clubs will be announced this year on October 31.

WMG said the stadium can be completed in 21 months.

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