Blockbusters to kick off A-League season
The A-League is hoping to capitalise on the hype around the World Cup and the signing of Spanish superstar David Villa with several blockbuster matches in the opening weeks of the new season.
Heavyweights Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers will kick off the 2014/15 campaign at Etihad Stadium on Friday, October 10, while Melbourne City will make their first official outing against Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium the following night.
Round one also features the F3 derby, with Central Coast to host Newcastle Jets, while defending champions Brisbane Roar will be at home to Adelaide United and Perth Glory face Wellington in New Zealand on the Sunday.
All eyes will be on the revamped City, however, who could field their star international signings Villa and Irishman Damien Duff in the Saturday match.
The club are yet to confirm which 10 games Villa will play during his guest stint before he takes up his new contract with sister outfit New York City in the Major League Soccer (MLS).
However, six of City’s first 10 fixtures are in Melbourne, with only one to be played at a venue with a capacity less than 30,000 – Adelaide’s Cooper Stadium in round nine.
A-League boss Damien de Bohun said the draw had been the most challenging to produce in the competition’s history, given the scheduling of the Asian Cup, FFA Cup and Asian Champions League.
But he denied Villa’s time in Australia was considered during planning.
“That might sound strange, but the fixture is not about an individual player,” de Bohun said on Thursday.
“We’re rapt that David Villa’s coming; we’re rapt that marquee players are coming into the competition.
“But to create a sustainable and long-term view of the competition, it’s much more than that.
“There’s no doubt, though, that there’s people all over Melbourne now contemplating becoming A-League members and fans because of what’s happening at Melbourne City.”
De Bohun was confident the interest in this year’s World Cup in Brazil would also provide a boost in participation, crowd numbers and TV ratings for the A-League.
“There’s no doubt it will have a flow-on effect and we think we’ll be able to build that momentum very strongly going into the start of the new season,” he said.
The draw includes Thursday night football for the first time, with four fixtures scheduled from round 10, plus a grand final re-match on November 1.
Geelong will also get to host its first A-League match at Simonds Stadium between Victory and Perth on January 2, in the middle of the league’s ‘Summer of football’ featuring 21 games in 22 days.
The competition will break for the Asian Cup in January, except for three games that will be played in non-host cities.
Season 10 will end with the grand final on May 10.