Western United’s plans to play their home games for the first two years of their existence at Geelong’s Kardinia Park are still in limbo, but a resolution could be close after stadium and club officials met on Friday.
Fresh off unveiling a formal club name as well as colours (green and black), United Football Director Steve Horvat held meetings with the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust eager to make progress on a tenancy deal.
United hope to call Geelong – a key component of their stated catchment area – home for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 A-League seasons before moving into a privately funded and run purpose-built stadium in Tarneit, an hour’s drive north.
“We’re sitting with the trust this afternoon (Friday) so it doesn’t get any closer than that,” Horvat revealed on Friday’s Daily Football Show.
— Western United FC (@wufcofficial) February 14, 2019
“We’ll be doing some presentations and we’re really close. We do believe it will be a bit of a hybrid.
“We want to take some games to the region as well, even though Geelong is our region, maybe closer to the western areas of Melbourne or even … Ballarat as well.”
United have laid claim to a large catchment area from the beginning of their campaign for an A-League licence, stretching as far as Geelong to Bendigo, with big plans for their eventual home base in Tarneit.
That could see the club take A-League matches away from Geelong in those first two years, but Horvat insisted any nomadic scheduling would not be a “circus roadshow”.
Ultimately, United could finalise an agreement to play at GMHBA Stadium – home to AFL, AFLW and the Big Bash – in the next fortnight.
“We’re having discussions on a number of fronts. We don’t want it to be a circus roadshow,” he added.
“We want to firmly have a base at Kardinia Park but with the ability to play some other games throughout the region.
“That’s the sort of model we’re looking at and hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll tie that up.”
Concurrently, Horvat said, United are working on further key club identifiers, including an official crest and kits, with developments on that front imminent.
The former Socceroo revealed United have already struck a deal with a kit manufacturer, but refused to name what that brand is.
“The logo, the crest is really symbolic of what the identity of the club is so we’re looking to do that very shortly,” Horvat added.
“We’re deep in the midst many kit designs from our supplier and working through the colours and different variations.
“It’s one of the most exciting things … these are the fun things and exciting things as well as bringing it to the people of the west.
“Those two things will be rolled out probably in the next two to three weeks and then we move forward to organising the memberships and those sorts of things.”
On the playing front, United have signed Greek star Panagiotis Kone as their inaugural marquee, while Josh Risdon is their first Australian player.
Long-time Bentleigh Greens manager John Anastasiadis and Central Coast Mariners legend John Hutchinson have been named as assistant managers with a head coach still to be appointed.
Wellington Phoenix manager Mark Rudan has been hotly tipped as being at the top of their wish list.
Bid official Maurice Bisetto has also been confirmed as the club’s first CEO.