A-League: Western United want Tarneit to become a ‘fortress’

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Western United coach John Aloisi has envisaged the A-League outfit turning into a sporting club as the prospect of the struggling Melbourne Rebels becoming tenants at the Wyndham regional football facility in Tarneit looms.

United will finally play its first A-League men’s game on Saturday at Tarneit, against Macarthur FC.

While the game will take place at United’s small training facility ground, the club finally has a place to call home, with a 15,000-seat stadium expected to be built by 2026.

“I know that we’re playing matches out here at the start until the stadium’s been built but as a training facility, it’s been excellent,” Socceroos great Aloisi said.

“It’s what you want an A-League side to have, and because it’s our own, it means a lot for us.”

It could also mean a lot for the Rebels, the Super Rugby club that had been expected to fold this year.

Placed in voluntary administration in January with debts exceeding $23m, the Rebels have been thrown a potential lifeline by a private equity-backed consortium headed by former Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford.

The consortium, which has reportedly raised close to $30m to invest into the Rebels, wants the club to relocate from AAMI Park to Tarneit, where they would align, and most likely be taken over, by the Western Melbourne Group, which owns Western United.

“I’m sure one day we’ll have a facility big enough to host and hold a few different sports,” Aloisi said.

“I know out here, and I can see it with the size of the land and with the way that it’s going to get built up in Tarneit, that not only will they want football, which will primarily be the No.1 sport in this area, but there will be other sports like basketball, like rugby that will be in the same facility.

“Whether it’s using our pitch … or our facility, I’m sure that’s quite a few years down the track.

“I’m happy. I know in places like Spain, (with) Barcelona, Real Madrid … it’s an actual sporting club.

“I know it works, and if it’s ours and we’re part of the sporting club, I’ll be happy with that.”

Aloisi said bottom-of-the-table United was intent on turning its new ground into a “fortress”.

“To do that you have to start off by trying to put pressure on the opposition, winning games, and making sure that it’s hard for teams to come here,” he said.

“We’re trying to make it feel like home straight away. We haven’t had one so it’s more like a home than wherever we’ve been because we’ve been in a number of different spots and different stadiums.”

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