Venue battle should Wanderers qualify for ACL final

If Western Sydney Wanderers FC qualify for the ACL final, there could be a heated battle for the home leg venue with ANZ Stadium potentially in the mix if the Asian Football Confederation decide it’s the most appropriate venue for the region’s showpiece final.

While the Hyundai A-League club has a tricky task of getting past Korean giants FC Seoul in the semi finals starting next week, should they progress Wanderers will take on either UAE’s Al Ain or Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia over two legs on October 25 and November 1.

The AFC – as they have before every phase of the competition – will inspect potential venues once the finalists have been decided.  

But with a huge crowd expected – potentially up to 50,000 – as well as the need for bigger and better corporate facilities and broadcast and media services, Wanderers’ home ground Parramatta Stadium could struggle to impress the AFC. 

Sydney’s Allianz Stadium is another possibility although it’s hard to see the Wanderers being prepared to play outside of western Sydney and at the home of their fierce rivals.

“Parramatta Stadium has been approved for use by the Wanderers for the group stage and the knock-out phase to date. The venue for the ACL final will come down to the Asian Football Confederation’s requirement,” said the Head of Hyundai A-League, Damien de Bohun.

“We can’t pre-empt that decision and of course the Wanderers have a tough semi-final before this becomes a consideration.

“There’s no doubt that an ACL final in Sydney would draw a huge crowd and I’m sure that will be one of the factors that AFC will consider.”

Parramatta has been given the green light to host the club’s home leg of the semi-final on Wednesday, October 1.

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic was reluctant to look past FC Seoul, with a difficult trip to Korea for the first leg just a week away.

But asked if he would be disappointed if a potential finals was switched away from their spiritual home, Popovic said: “It’s hard to say. Our home is Parramatta and that’s where we love to play. For that (a switch) to happen there would have to be some real legitimate reasons why it can’t (be played there).”

The Wanderers incredible supporter base has become a real highlight of the Hyundai A-League, with the club boasting almost 16,000 members.

And the club has always stated it wants to reward its fabulous support with games such as these and that sentiment has not changed. 

 “It’s (Parramatta) certainly become our home, we love playing in front of our fans and the noise they create and the passionate support that we get,” Popovic said.

“There are plans to make the stadium bigger which will accommodate a lot of new members that want to come on board.

“It’s still one step at a time and we’re doing well at the moment as a football club and also football in the region is doing great.

“Step-by-step we can keep growing and getting better.”

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