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The move APIA Leichhardt should make as they march towards the A-League

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7th July, 2023
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Sky Blue fans, your day of ruling the Emerald City is about to be questioned by a National Premier League side.

Sitting on top of the NSW table, APIA Leichhardt lead the semi-professional competition. Take note, football connoisseurs, the coffees are better west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

As an extra treat, Franco Parisi‘s men have also qualified for the next stage of the Australia Cup, reaching the Round of 32.

The former player turned manager has transformed the Inner West team into a powerhouse club, worthy of admission into football’s impending second division.

However, can APIA transition to the highest tiered competition, which eventually might pit Leichhardt against various A-League juggernauts?

The first consideration is location, placing APIA within a 10-kilometre radius from Moore Park, home of Sydney FC, their closest rivals.

Hypothetically, if Parisi’s players were to progress beyond the second division, then a new A-League derby would be born.

Yes, an actual derby, folks. Based on close proximity, and not irony, such as the “distance derby” between Wellington and Perth.

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Such a game would also challenge the status quo of the celebrated derby between Western Sydney and the Sky Blues. Suddenly, the Wanderers’ would be competing with APIA, both clubs playing the role of nemesis to antagoniser Sydney FC.

Is there a new A-League derby in the future? (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Situated on the light rail network, APIA’s Lambert Park is a 20-minute ride from Central Station and has hosted Inner West football for decades.

Alighting at Marion Station, punters have a two-minute walk to the home of APIA, which can hold around 7000 fans.

So far so good, although the boutique stadium does have its challenges. Having artificial turf, Lambert Park might not fit the field requirements set by the A-League.

Secondly, there is seating for only 2000 spectators and their hospitality packages are minuscule, limiting corporate sponsors to the old clubhouse.

With Sydney FC patrons proving financial clout on away days, surely there are better options to lure the opposition’s almighty dollar?

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Refurbishing the ground which was built in 1954 comes with a series of challenges, starting with limited land space. There’s also zoning restrictions as the suburb is slowly being transformed from warehouses into residential units.

A solution would be to engage the local council and upgrade nearby Leichhardt Oval, rebranding it in APIA’s colours and crest, which allows Lambert Park to remain a training base.

With all due respect to the Wests Tigers, rugby league can’t call the “eighth wonder of the world” their exclusive home anymore.

In any event Tim Sheens’ black and gold men already have a new centre of excellence at Concord, funded partially by the NSW government.

It’s about time football flexed its muscles and moved full-time to Leichhardt Oval.

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