West Melbourne Group sets sights on Geelong

West Melbourne Group sets sights on Geelong

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With the August 31 deadline for final expansion proposals rapidly approaching, concrete details of several of the A-League bids plans are beginning to come to light.

Dailyfootballshow.com has learnt that West Melbourne Group (WMG), the bid proposing to place an A-League side in Melbourne’s West, is in advanced stages of negotiating deals with both Kardinia and AAMI Park to host games in the initial years of the sides existence should it be accepted into the A-League.

A WMG spokesperson confirmed to dailyfootballshow.com that WMG has entered advanced discussions with Geelong’s Kardinia Park to host the large majority of its home games upon its initial entrance to the league, with negotiations also occurring with AAMI Park to play select games at the Melbourne venue in the event that the Geelong ground is not available.

Construction of the bid’s own privately funded, 15,000 seat stadia is planned to commence immediately should their application to join the league be accepted by the FFA, with plans for the new facility to be ready for the 2022/23 A-League season.

In the interim, the spokesperson clarified that the bid was looking to play as much of its games in the West as possible.

“We want to play at Kardinia Park because we want our club to be totally focused on supporting sport and community out West,” the spokesperson said

“Kardinia Park has had hundreds of millions of State Government money poured into the venue yet has little content so, again, if we are going to spend money we want to spend it in the west.”

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Michael Brown, CEO of the Kardinia Park trust, confirmed to dailyfootballshow.com that the WMG was in advanced discussions with Kardinia Park – contingent upon their admission into the A-League – to play games out of Geelong in its initial season.

“We’ve been talking to the concept of the franchise for over 12 months,” Brown said.

“They’re very heavily focused on being involved in the community and we’re happy to support them in that space.”

“I’m comfortable we can come to commercial terms when we know the number of matches, what they require, seating plans, corporate hospitality plans, sponsorship needs, all those will wash out in due course.

“Geelong is a very vibrant football territory. We have strong NPL teams down here and we’ve got strong local leagues so the ability to bring elite content is a real positive.”

WMG also recently announced the staging of the first of a series of fan forums on August 13, where bid members and stadium designers Populous, proposed builder Probuild and proposed stadium managers Venues Live will be answering questions from the community surrounding the bid.

Kardinia Park is currently scheduled to play host to one A-League game during the 2018/19 A-League season, a round 21 clash between Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets on March 2.

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With Victoria widely tipped to provide one of the two expansion sides for the 2019/20 season, WMG becomes the second of the state’s shortlisted bidding parties confirm where they plan to play their games in their initial seasons in the competition – one of the key questions faced by the bids.

With their existing facility already in place, expansion rivals South Melbourne have made Lakeside Stadium one of the cornerstones of their case for A-League inclusion, saying the boutique Albert Park stadium would require minimal upgrades should it be called upon as the permanent home of an A-League side.

Victoria’s third bid, Team 11, has announced plans to build a boutique stadium financed through a combination of local, state and federal funding next to Dandenong Station in the heart of Melbourne’s South-East, as well as training facilities at Casey Fields.

At the April announcement of their proposed stadium, Team 11 identified Casey Fields as a potential host of A-League game in its initial foray into the league and a spokesperson for the bid clarified to dailyfootballshow.com that it was the bids intention to play the vast majority of its games in Melbourne’s South-East.

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