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Western Sydney Wanderer’s fans have reacted with disappointment at the news their A-League Women’s game against Wellington Phoenix will now be played at CommBank Stadium behind closed doors on Tuesday night.
Former Matilda Rhali Dobson called it a disgrace the game, originally scheduled to be part of a double header with the men yesterday, will now be played without fans being allowed to attend.
There is no word yet on when the men’s game will be rescheduled.
Neither the Wanderers nor the APL have publicly explained why the game is behind closed doors, but it is expected the reason would be the cost of having fans attend the Stadium would far outweigh any income generated.
Costs would include hiring security (a legal requirement), insurance requirements, operating facilities and other overhead costs associated with having fans attend.
To be fair, the crowd tomorrow night would barely have exceeded a few hundred considering the weather and also the fact it’s a school night.
Whenever the Wander Women have played at their traditional home of Marconi Stadium, the crowd would rarely be above 400 even on weekends. At Wanderers Football Park, the number is lower, thought the capacity is much smaller.
The Wanderers have declined in the past to publicly disclose the financial arrangements of playing at CommBank Stadium, but it is understood to be an expensive exercise particularly for games that would only see a few hundred attend.
Whenever the Wanderers have played A-League Women’s games in the past at the venue, they have opened the gates only 15 minutes prior to kick-off.
When asked why they don’t open it earlier to allow fans to come in and watch players warm up, the Club explained the cost of opening even 15 minutes earlier was too much considering the number of fans that would actually turn up in that time frame.
“The message the Club sends to the community is that women’s football isn’t worth spending money on,” said Leanne Kent, a long time fan. “On the back of another season when there was no visible preparedness to spend money on the women’s team.”
Adam Clay added:
“I think it’s really sad that the fans can’t attend because it’s not financially viable. Surely there’s some money in the bank somewhere because without the fans, there are no games.”
Victor Brincat questioned why the game was played at CommBank Stadium.
“Stupid not having fans at any game,” he said. “If you can’t afford big stadiums play them at suburban grounds where at the end of the day the local clubs benefit and the game is the winner.”
It is unclear why the game is still being played at CommBank Stadium. It could be down to broadcasting requirements, with CommBank Stadium offering a much better setup for Paramount Plus.
It also could be simply because smaller alternative venues like Marconi Stadium and Wanderers Football Park may not be fit enough to have the game, considering the rain that has engulfed Sydney in the past week.
The match itself is a significant one, with both teams battling to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. The Phoenix sit in last place, three points behind the Wander Women with two games left.
The Wanderers play Melbourne City on Saturday in their last game at home, while the Phoenix tackle finals contenders Perth Glory on Friday in Wollongong.
The teams played in the season opener at Wollongong with a 0-0 draw the end result in the Phoenix’s first ever game.
Tuesday’s game will be live on Paramount with kick-off set for 6.35pm.