Tarneit will be home to a new A-League team after scoring one of two new Football Federation Australia (FFA) expansion licences.
The Western Melbourne Group and Macarthur-South West Sydney were granted club licenses following an FFA board meeting yesterday.
The Western Melbourne Group is expected to make its debut for the 2019-20 A-League season and will train and compete at Geelong’s Kardinia Park while its home ground, the multi-million-dollar Wyndham Stadium, is under construction.
The 15,000-seat Wyndham Stadium – which has been fully funded through a value capture model – will be built on Wyndham council-owned land at 1160 Sayers Road in Tarneit and is expected to be ready in time for the opening round of the 2021-22 A-League season.
The facility will include elite training pitches, sports medicine facilities and a gym. Residential and commercial development has also been planned for the surrounding area.
FFA chief executive David Gallop said one of the key strengths of the Western Melbourne Group bid was its proposal to build Australia’s first football-owned and football-specific stadium.
“There were very attractive aspects to each of the bids, but the prospect of a facility owned by football for football will be a significant new milestone for the game in Australia,” Mr Gallop said.
“Football-specific stadia have been extremely successful in league expansion in other parts of the world and we are excited by the prospect of such a facility in Melbourne.”
FFA chairman Chris Nikou said the two bids chosen were each located in some of the biggest growth corridors in Australia and presented long-term growth opportunities.
Mr Nikou stressed today’s decision was “not a full stop for the expansion process”, with the FFA keen to eventually expand to 14 teams.
Western Melbourne Group’s director of football Steve Horvat thanked partners Wyndham council for their hard work and commitment to the bid. The bid also had the support of Brimbank, Maribyrnong and Melton councils.
“[The council’s] vision from day one in identifying our future home has been a cornerstone of our bid,” Mr Horvat said.
“Most of all we thank the people of Western Melbourne for daring to dream and giving the bid team the energy and drive to make this happen. Football is all about the fans and Western Melbourne will be fan-centric in everything we do.”
As previously reported by Star Weekly, the Western Melbourne Group has already been chatting to possible marquee player recruits to ensure the new club has a strong player base.
Mr Horvat said the Western Melbourne Group had also started preliminary planning for building the Wyndham Stadium, and expects to turn soil on the project within 12 months.
Wyndham mayor Mia Shaw labelled the decision a game changer for the city.
“It made sense to choose our bid. We’re one of the fastest growing areas in Australia, and have a catchment area of 1.25 million people,” Cr Shaw said.
“This decision is definitely a big win for Wyndham that will lead to increased visitation, bringing people from right across the country to Wyndham to watch the nation’s best football players on the field.
“It also puts us on the national and international sporting stage, which will no doubt bring significant economic benefits to the region.
“The development will result in accelerated infrastructure investment for Tarneit, with a priority being road and rail infrastructure to ensure this new stadium is accessible for all the fans we’ll be welcoming into our city, and for our community more broadly.”