What is ‘western Sydney’ supposed to represent?
105 Have your say
FFA CEO Ben Buckley at the A-League's Western Sydney club announcement (Image courtesy Fox Sports)
The A-League draw may be out but the letters ‘TBA’ are peppered throughout the schedule. And while we are tantalisingly close to knowing the full composition of the A-League’s newest club, what does it really mean for fans in Sydney?
Perhaps the proposed ‘Wanderers’ moniker is a nod to the fact the new western Sydney team will be wandering all over the city in search of a home ground?
I kid, of course, and am well aware of the historical significance of the name – linked as it is to the first local side reputed to have played in the region.
But when the A-League’s newest team is yet to finalise a ground, let alone a name, playing squad or team colours, it’s a bit difficult to get excited about what it all means for the competition.
And that’s especially the case when three A-League clubs have already come and gone and another has failed to get off the ground.
Much has already been written about the defunct New Zealand Knights, North Queensland Fury, Gold Coast United and the non-existent Sydney Rovers.
But few critics have questioned what kind of impact a new western Sydney team will have on Sydney FC and the city’s lower league clubs.
It’s a question I ponder as someone who used to travel from Sydney’s north-western fringes to the Sydney Football Stadium on a regular basis.
In all the hullaballoo over the creation of a new club, has anyone else wondered what Football Federation Australia expects western-Sydney based Sydney FC fans to do?
After all, it’s not as if a single A-League club can afford to bleed fans to a rival entity, least of all Sydney FC.
Will a western Sydney club honestly bring a raft of new fans through the gate? Why weren’t these fans going to Sydney FC games in the first place?
I personally think this whole ‘western Sydney identity’ is overblown.
When someone can geographically define what ‘western Sydney’ is actually supposed to be is when fans from Campbelltown might feel an affinity for a Parramatta-based football club.
And while I think it’s a sensible move from a marketing point of view to try to appeal to as broad a fan base as possible, I also hope there’s been some consideration given to the fact that many who play the game in western Sydney are already rusted-on fans of other clubs.
And that includes teams like Marconi and Sydney United now plying their trade in the New South Wales Premier League.
There’s nothing to say fans of those particular clubs can’t support an A-League team as well.
But if the hostility towards the A-League from certain sections of Sydney Olympic supporters is anything to go by, it’ll be a long time yet before there’s universal acceptance of a club purporting to represent western Sydney.
With all that said, I still want the western Sydney team to be a rip-roaring success.
The league itself can ill afford another failure and it should be seen as a positive that the sports-mad fans of the nation’s most sprawling city now have a second top A-League team to call their own.
But just as Melbourne Heart seemed to cannibalise somewhat from the Victory support, so too is there a danger for Sydney FC’s crowds to fall in the wake of the addition of a new team.
What would be far more preferable (obviously) is for the new club’s arrival to energise supporters and help give the A-League a boost throughout the city.
And for that reason Monday can’t come quickly enough, with football fans finally set to be given a clearer understanding of just who ‘western Sydney’ are and precisely what they are supposed to represent.
Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he has settled in Brisbane and has been a Roar columnist since December 2008. Follow Mike on twitter @Mike_Tuckerman
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