Maribyrnong is set to play a central part in Melbourne Victory’s training regime under a $750,000 plan to redevelop a local playing field.
Melbourne Victory Football Club (MVFC) has offered to spend $500,000 on fixing the playing surface of the cricket oval at Robert Barrett Reserve, creating two soccer training fields, in return for a proposed 10-year license agreement for the A-league soccer team.
Maribyrnong council would chip in $250,000 for the upgrade works to the cricket oval, adjacent to the Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre, found by a council report to be lacking adequate drainage, irrigation or lighting.
Walking paths would be reoriented to improve the layout and extra trees would be planted to offset the trees that would be lost to the redevelopment.
The oval is presently used for Saturday games and junior training by Barkly Street Uniting Cricket Club, one of the area’s oldest and largest cricket clubs.
Melbourne Victory would use the pitches for about 15 hours of training per week, enabling the cricket club to maintain access for training and Saturday games.
Works would need to be completed by April 2018.
Barkly Street Uniting Cricket Club administrator Jeffrey Law said the tight timeframe meant the council was initially going to kick the cricket club off the field barely halfway through the current cricket season.
“We have made a compromise so it [work]would start in February, which means we would only have to move one game,” Mr Law said.
Maribyrnong councillors last week backed sending the plan out for consultation, noting it was an opportunity to cement ties with the popular sporting club.
Melbourne Victory and the council last year entered an agreement to develop a junior football academy at Footscray Park and the club also inked a five-year strategic partnership earlier this year with Victoria University.