AFL work on western Sydney project - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

AFL work on western Sydney project

By Roger Vaughan 17/03/2010 08:24:54 PM Comments (0)

AFL administrators face a crucial few months as they work to a tight deadline on their ambitious Greater Western Sydney expansion project.

The league want the Kevin Sheedy-coached "GWS" team to join the competition in 2012, a year after Gold Coast make their AFL debut, but first the 18th team needs a home stadium.

The AFL Commission will not vote on issuing the GWS licence until the stadium issue is revolved.

AFL administrators would undoubtedly prefer to put a licence proposal to the commission by mid-year.

There is plenty of speculation about where GWS will call home, with Blacktown Olympic Park and the Sydney Showgrounds two frequently-mentioned possibilities, but AFL chief operating officer Gillon McLachlan would not go into specifics.

"We can't talk too much about the stadium, but we're talking to a number of stakeholders," he said.

"We're optimistic, but it's a difficult one and stadium redevelopment, they're big projects.

"It's important, but we're going okay.

"There are a few different options - there's a preferred venue, which I can't talk about." McLachlan called the stadium the "next big" issue in the league's ambitious project to create GWS.

The league is determined to have the 18th team in the competition for 2012, but McLachlan admits there are variables yet to be overcome.

"I'm not trying to create a headline - we're pretty definitive about that - but if you can't get everything done (that) you need to able to award the licence you want ... if it was an absolute 'set in stone', then you would just award the licence," he said.

"We're very keen and as much as we can set it in concrete, it's 2012, but we have to get these things done.

"It's as certain as we can be without having the certainty over the things we need to get done to award the licence." Despite the obvious challenges, the AFL has been making progress with GWS.

Sheedy's appointment has been a public relations coup.

"He's a star, isn't he?," McLachlan said.

Other well-known AFL figures such as Tom Harley, Paul Kelly and Graeme Allan have also joined the club.

"People's mindsets have changed in the last three or four months, everyone instinctively understood and embraced the Gold Coast, but they found Greater Western Sydney more of a challenge," McLachlan said.

"They've seen the announcements we've had, the momentum it's delivered and the people of Greater Western Sydney have started embracing the concept.

"What we're really pleased to see is people (in the GWS area) are looking for sport, they're looking for something to identify with and they can see the benefits, whether they are social, community, economic or health."

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