Melbourne Victory is negotiating to move a rival club’s home match to Geelong as part of their three-year deal with the Victorian Government.
Victory committed to playing one match in Geelong for the next three seasons in June last year and had great success with 21,289 fans turning out for January’s A-League clash with Perth Glory despite stifling heat and ticketing issues.
However, the A-League’s annual fixture changeabout means Victory will host 13, not 14, home games in 2015-16, which are committed to Etihad Stadium and AAMI Park.
As a result, Victory are looking for a solution with CEO Ian Robson revealing they were in discussions with other clubs.
Robson didn’t identify which clubs were being talked to, but Brisbane Roar, Central Coast and Newcastle Jets appear most likely, with all three clubs having 14 home games scheduled for 2015-16 and in need of a financial boost.
“We need to agree terms with another club to move one of their home games down to Geelong, where we’d still be the nominal away team,” Robson told FourFourTwo.
“Those conversations are happening and we’re hoping we can secure an outcome for another A-League match down there.
“We are working with the FFA in the construct of the fixtures to endeavour to secure another game down there this coming season.”
While A-League clubs have previously played regular season matches in regional areas, the concept of relocating ‘home’ matches inter-state is new, although Gold Coast United moved a game to Adelaide several years ago. The practice does occur more commonly in the AFL.
The Victorian Government allocated $50,000 to lure games to Geelong as part of the deal and rival clubs would need to be offered a financial incentive to agree to re-locate any home fixtures.
However, any clubs moving home matches inter-state would upset their membership bases, although there are a number of clubs who would welcome a one-off financial boost.
Victory are typically one of the bigger drawing ‘away’ sides for home attendances, meaning it will be a tough sell for clubs.
Traditional Victory rivals Sydney FC and Adelaide United are unlikely to move home matches against the champions and the Melbourne derby won’t be re-located to Geelong.
Of the remaining clubs, only Brisbane Roar, Central Coast and Newcastle Jets may have some flexibility to re-locate a fixture given they’re scheduled for 14 home games.
Central Coast faced a supporter backlash when it attempted to re-locate several home games to North Sydney Oval and Manly and may fear similar issues.
Robson added there was plenty of incentive for Victory to maintain a presence in the region.
“The A-League match against Perth was a quality event with a crowd that could’ve been bigger if the temperatures had been a little bit kinder,” Robson said.
“To get 22,000 in Geelong for an A-League game for points was an outstanding result.
“It gives us great heart and encouragement to want to continue to work with the city, the state government and work with the support of the FFA to grow our presence there.”
The 2015-16 A-League fixtures are set to be announced publicly later this month.comments