Western United is hoping they can make Lakeside Stadium have a real home feel this upcoming A-League season.
The fixture for the 2021-22 season was released earlier this week, with United set to play seven home games at the Albert Park stadium.
United will also play home games in Geelong, Ballarat and Tasmanian, as they have in the past.
United chief executive Chris Chris Pehlivanis told Star Weekly they were looking forward to playing games at Lakeside, which is the home of South Melbourne Soccer Club.
“The ground has a lot of history and was definitely one of the premier venues in the old National Soccer League,” he said.
“We want to be able to create a bit of an atmosphere and be able to get a real advantage against our rivals.
“We really want to showcase our brand of football and we want to have a great fan experience for our loyal members and fans that have been with us from the beginning.
“It’s a really good opportunity and we want to work with South Melbourne.
“Hopefully we can see some big live crowds.”
Pehlivanis said they looked at a number of different locations to play their home games which had to be up to A-League and broadcaster standard.
They wanted to continue to play home games at AMMI Park, but Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City blocked that, while grounds in their heartland in the western suburbs weren’t up to standard.
“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,” he said.
“We looked at a lot of venues, five or six, but they weren’t up to the standard of the A-League or the broadcasters.
“We looked at Knights Stadium in Sunshine, Avalon Oval in Werribee and even the Showgrounds, it didn’t stack up.”
“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.”
Among the reasons Lakeside was chosen besides being up to A-League and broadcaster standards, included it being easily accessible by public transport and ample parking.
Pehlivanis said they were also happy to get back to Ballarat, Geelong and Tasmania to continue to build their brand in those areas.
Work on United’s new stadium in Werribee will get underway next month.
Pehlivanis said it was exciting that it was finally getting underway.
“Everyone on this journey knew it wouldn’t be built overnight.
“We’ve been building the brand the first couple of years, with the bigger picture in play.”