The Western Sydney Wanderers may score a major advantage by hosting an A-League Grand Final, but their vocal active supporter group isn’t celebrating.
A major deal was announced on Monday that will see Sydney host the A-League Men’s and Women’s Grand Finals, as well as the E-League Grand Final, for the next three years. Venues haven’t been locked in but Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium, the Wanderers’ home ground, is certainly in the running and hosted Monday’s announcement.
APL CEO Danny Townsend said it was a positive announcement, moving on from Grand Finals being hosted in different cities depending on the teams participating.
“Football fans now get the best of both worlds – they can now look forward to a showpiece Grand Final event in a set location, as well as watching A-Leagues and national team stars week-in-week-out at their local A-Leagues team,” he said.
“This is a unique opportunity to build a tradition for football fans. When you think about a cup final in England, you think about the trip to Wembley, and we want fans in Australia to look forward to the A-Leagues finals in the same way.
“We have already broken the previous record for attendance this season in the Liberty A-League Women and have set an objective to make history again with Grand Final attendance in the year that we host the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
NSW Minister for Tourism Ben Franklin said the addition of the A-Leagues Grand Finals to Sydney’s annual sporting events calendar would have significant benefits for NSW.
“As the nation’s home of football I am delighted to be partnering with the APL to bring the Men’s and Women’s A-Leagues Grand Finals to Sydney,” Mr Franklin said.
“Sydney is renowned for hosting world-class sporting events and we are going to create a new tradition for Australian football fans, making the Grand Finals a week-long extravaganza that showcases football and the best of the Harbour City.”
But not everyone is happy about the move, with Wanderers active supporter group the Red & Black Bloc (RBB) demanding the decision be reversed.
“We are completely against the decision for Sydney to host the next three grand finals,” it said in a statement.
“This once again demonstrates the lack of fan consultation. It was a decision to chase $$$ regardless of the integrity of the competition. A home grand final is the reward for the effort throughout the season. Earning the right to host the final was our tradition. We don’t need to copy the other codes. For this to be taken away with little consideration shows a lack of understanding.”
Minister for Sport Alister Henskens said the addition of the A-Leagues Grand Final to Sydney’s annual sporting events calendar is a huge coup for NSW.
“With the FIFA Women’s World Cup coming and on the back of the Socceroos historic World Cup in Qatar, football in Australia is going from strength to strength,” Mr Henskens said.
“NSW is home to the most clubs in the both A-Leagues competitions, with the greatest supporter base, most passionate fans, the highest level of football participation and the best football venues.”
The A-League Women’s Grand Final is scheduled for April 30, while the E-League Grand Final is on May 27 and the Men’s Grand Final is on June 3.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.