A-League Melbourne derby semi-final to be played at Etihad

By , Jason Phelan is a Roar Guru

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    Melbourne Victory will host a home A-League semi-final at Etihad Stadium – instead of the smaller AAMI Park – if a dream local derby against Melbourne City becomes a reality.

    City face Perth Glory in an elimination final at AAMI Park on Sunday and will go on to meet the Victory in the next week of the finals should they win.

    The A-League has butted heads with the AFL in the past over access to Etihad Stadium for big-drawing finals.

    But chief executive Greg O’Rourke told reporters on Tuesday there would be no such issues this year.

    “We wouldn’t play a derby at AAMI Park, we will definitely play it at Etihad,” O’Rourke said.

    “We have (booked it). We have availability of all the venues that we’re looking for that weekend so it won’t be an issue this year.

    “The good thing about Etihad for a Melbourne derby is that both clubs really want to be there if it’s a derby.”

    Etihad Stadium holds approximately 53,000 fans compared to AAMI Park’s capacity of 30,000.

    The last meeting at Etihad Stadium between the arch-rivals, won 2-1 by Victory, attracted a crowd of 35,426.

    Another local derby is a possibility if Western Sydney Wanderers defeat Brisbane Roar in the other elimination final

    But Sydney FC’s preference is to host a semi-final at Allianz Stadium instead of the larger ANZ Stadium.

    “The decision hasn’t been made yet but we’re leaning towards having it at Allianz,” O’Rourke said.

    “Sydney will host and there’s a certain amount of push back from Sydney FC … they’ve been on this big run all year and then when they come to the semi-final the potential to move it to ANZ Stadium is completely at odds with them.

    “And we think it would probably be better to have a ‘sold out’ sign at Allianz and the real atmosphere that that ground can bring.”

    As the league’s chief administrator, O’Rourke is at pains to remain impartial but he admitted having two semi-finals also be heated local derbies was an attractive prospect.

    “There’s definitely a significant kick between having a derby versus a non-derby with regard to ticket prices, crowd sizes and the overall atmosphere of a filled stadium,” he said.

    “So the thought of potentially having a derby in Melbourne and Sydney is fairly exciting but there’s a round that has to be played out before we start to think about that.”

    © AAP 2017