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Artist's impression of an upgraded Pirtek Stadium. Artist's impression of an upgraded Pirtek Stadium. Featured


Wanderers drive Stadium expansion

By Anthony Stavrinos

WESTERN Sydney Wanderers still have aggressive plans for expansion, including a partnership with rival sporting code, rugby league and the Parramatta Eels to upgrade Pirtek Stadium.

But both the Wanderers and Eels are struggling to convince NSW’s Baird Government to further increase capacity at Pirtek Stadium as part of its planned $29 million upgrade.

Incoming Sport Minister Stuart Ayres said he had found some “common ground” with the teams and was keen to start work on “the parts of the upgrade everyone is happy with”.

Both clubs have been trying to convince the government to expand works, based on the premise that construction works based on present upgrade plans would be too disruptive to deliver only 1,800 additional seats.

Mr Ayres told The Daily Telegraph the Wanderers were concerned they would lose about $1 million in revenue from gate takings next season if parts of the stands were closed during building work.

“I don’t think that $29 million is going to significantly increase the capacity,’’ he told the paper.

“But I also don’t think the two tenants have a desire to want to go through the necessary pain of losing capacity to get a (further) small gain.”

Work was scheduled to begin at the end of May overhauling the stadium’s corporate and team facilities and increasing its capacity to 22,500 seats, using $20 million allocated by the federal government, $6 million by the state and $3 million by Parramatta City Council.

But both clubs are calling on government stakeholders to back a plan that would see the venue converted into Western Sydney’s largest rectangular stadium at a cost of up to $100 million.

It could be partly financed by private sector investors interested in developing office, retail and elite sports science facilities.

Sorely missed will be the negotiating skills of departing Western Sydney Wanderers executive chairman Lyall Gorman, who has excelled in government relations during his tenure at the club.

Federation Australia (FFA) has announced that the sale of the company holding the Hyundai A-League licence for Western Sydney Wanderers FC has now been completed.

The Western Sydney Wanderers FC licence is now held by a consortium headed by Paul Lederer, CEO of Primo Group.

The consortium also includes Jefferson Cheng, director of Sabre Sports United; Glenn Duncan, Pirtek director and head of international business; and David Slade, a partner in the Australian branch of the UK retail chain Topshop-Topman.

Mr Lederer has now assumed the role of Chairman of Western Sydney Wanderers FC with John Tsatsimas as the Chief Executive Officer.

FFA CEO David Gallop congratulated the consortium on the successful purchase of the Western Sydney Wanderers FC licence.

“Today marks a new chapter in the short, but very successful, history of Western Sydney Wanderers FC,” he said.

“Following the successful completion of the sale, we look forward to working with the club for the upcoming Hyundai A-League season and for the seasons to follow.”

Meanwhile, the Wanderers plans for another impressive season on the pitch are well advanced, with a new Brazilian marquis player, Vitor Saba, already drafted in to fill the big boots of popular, departed Japanese star, Shinji Ono.

The 23-year-old playmaker was still at Flamengo two years ago when Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic made his first approach.

“This story is a long one,” Saba told The Daily Telegraph.“When the Wanderers was created I was supposed to be here on loan from Flamengo. Everything was okay for me to come, but on the last day Brescia came and made an offer and it was a very good offer.”

Saba made 33 appearances for Brescia in the Italian Serie B, but things didn’t turn out as planned, with the clubs fans “cold” and intense pressure to perform.

Popovic contacted him again in January and Saba began to lean toward making the move to Sydney – and ultimately did.

Saba said Popovic made him feel very comfortable and he told him he “was not happy at Brescia and that I wanted to go to a place I can feel at home and be happy.”

He told Saba he would be happy at the Wanderers because there was great comraderie among its players, great fans and there were other things that could be done to make him happy.

He’s been affectionately dubbed “The Beard” on social media, already becoming a fan favourite and interacting with Wanderers supporters on twitter since his signing in late June and was even met by many of them when his flight touched down at dawn on July 4.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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