Hours after Western United announced plans to play seven home games at Lakeside Stadium in the upcoming A-League season, former NSL powerhouse South Melbourne vowed to prevent that from happening.
Western United, who plan to turn soil on their stadium site in Tarneit next month, added Lakeside Stadium to their list of home venues – GMHBA Stadium, Mars Stadium and UTAS Stadium – for the upcoming season on Thursday.
South Melbourne, who currently play in the NPL but have one of the most decorated histories in Australian football, have previously applied for, and missed out on A-League licences, including when United received theirs in 2018.
The long-standing tenants of Lakeside Stadium insisted there was no signed agreement in place with United or Australian Professional Leagues (APL).
“Executives at Lakeside Stadium and Melbourne Sports Centres have advised South Melbourne FC that contrary to the announcement made by Western United FC, there is no written or signed agreement in place with Western United FC or the Australian Professional Leagues to allow Western United FC access to Lakeside Stadium for the 2021-22 A-League season,” South Melbourne said in a statement.
“South Melbourne considers Western United to be a direct competitor in the Melbourne, Victorian and Australian football market.
“Their acceptance to the A-League was based largely on the commitment to having a purpose-built football stadium constructed in Melbourne’s west.
“It is approaching three years since the A-League expansion clubs were announced and construction works have still not commenced.
“Western United’s use of Lakeside Stadium is not acceptable and South Melbourne FC will vigorously oppose any such plans.
“South Melbourne can confirm that it will be exercising all rights to prevent Western United FC from playing A-League matches at Lakeside Stadium.”
Lakeside Stadium has previously been used for W-League and Y-League games.
They will no longer have home games at AAMI Park after Melbourne City and Victory rejected their rival’s push to play out of the ground for a second consecutive season.
Meanwhile, the venue for Central Coast’s home games – typically held at Gosford’s Central Coast Stadium – is yet to be confirmed.
The Mariners said a venue hire agreement for their usual home ground was “still pending” with Central Coast Council.
The A-League and W-League seasons have been pushed back amid coronavirus restrictions, with the men’s competition kick-off on November 19 – after an international window – and the women’s league to follow on December 3.
The APL released the schedule for the first six rounds of the A-League and opening four rounds of the W-League season on Thursday – based on a conference system.
NSW-based clubs and Wellington will initially play each other while the majority of the other games will be played in Victoria, with the Melbourne clubs, Adelaide United, Perth Glory and Brisbane grouped together.
Both competitions have been delayed by close to three weeks in a bid to have 100 per cent crowd capacity and also manage border restrictions.
Champions Melbourne City will kick off the A-League season against Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park on November 19.
W-League newcomers Wellington Phoenix will host Western Sydney Wanderers in the women’s season opener two weeks later.