Western United has added Lakeside Stadium, Albert Park to the 2021/22 home ground roster alongside Ballarat, Geelong, and Launceston.
In a pivotal move for United, seven home matches will be played at Lakeside Stadium, which was selected after a rigorous search for the best solution.
The search was for a Melbourne venue that would provide a great experience for fans and showcase the very best football product for broadcast purposes, especially given the A-League’s new TV broadcast agreement with Network Ten and Paramount+.
United had limited options for the season due to the lack of rectangular stadiums in Melbourne, and the requirement that stadiums must meet the minimum A-League venue standards.
Several other options were investigated during the process but did not materialise as viable. This included Knights Stadium in Sunshine which unfortunately required significant infrastructure investment to meet A-League standards.
United was keen to continue playing at AAMI Park as per the 2020/21 season, but this option was heavily opposed by cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City, despite being the only rectangular stadium in Melbourne that meets all requirements to host an A-League game.
Lakeside Stadium was selected for several reasons including being easily accessible both on public transport and on road networks with ample parking for United fans based in the west of Melbourne. It is also a purpose-built football stadium that can be adapted to meet to A-League standards, which was a critical factor in the decision-making process.
The move has the added benefit of supporting grassroots football, with Lakeside the home of South Melbourne FC – one of Australia’s most successful football clubs.
Chris Pehlivanis, Western United CEO said:
“We’ve been working hard to find the best home ground for us, which is not a simple process in a complex sporting environment topped with a global pandemic.
“Unfortunately, what we want and what our members tell us they want – a rectangular pitch to A-League standard located in the west of Melbourne – doesn’t exist. That’s why we are building Wyndham City Stadium.
“For this season, we wanted to build a home ground advantage that would not only benefit us on the pitch but provide the best solution for a great fan experience for our loyal members and fans that have been with us from the beginning.
“We’re really lucky as a club, we have tough, relentless and dedicated fans that I know will stick on this journey with us through the tough times as we build towards being a great club for the west for generations to come.”
Lakeside is home to South Melbourne FC, a club that United has utmost respect for and wants to work with to grow the game of football in Victoria.
United will also return to Geelong, Ballarat, and Tasmania with two home games at GMHBA Stadium, two games at MARS Stadium and two at UTAS Stadium thanks to a two-year partnership with Football Tasmania and the Tasmanian State Government.