Western United was supposed to split their 2021-22 games across four grounds. However, their plan to use Lakeside Stadium have been vigorously rejected by the ground's home side South Melbourne FC.
Western United had announced that it would play seven of its home games at Lakeside Stadium, currently the home of South Melbourne FC. The need for a temporary stadium is due to the fact that United are about to start the process of building their future stadium of Wyndham City Stadium.
In the interim United have been splitting their home games amongst numerous stadiums in their first two seasons. This will be the third year the club will also have multiple home grounds.
Western United has confirmed it will be returning to Geelong's GMHBA Stadium, Ballarat's MARS Stadium and Launceston's UTAS Stadium to play two games in each grounds. The Tasmanian based games are part of a two year partnership with Football Tasmania and the Tasmanian State government.
Conflicts made it impossible to return to AAMI Park, the Melbourne-based stadium Western United used last season. This meant that Western United needed to find a new Melbourne home ground for 2021-22.
The club announced yesterday that those seven games would be played Lakeview Stadium in Albert park, the home of National Premier Leagues Victoria side South Melbourne FC.
However, in a recent development, South Melbourne FC made a subsequent announcement rejecting Western United plans to use the stadium as their 2021-22 Melbourne home ground.
In a statement published on their website, South Melbourne FC announces:
"South Melbourne FC rejects the plans of Western United FC to use Lakeside Stadium
"South Melbourne FC notes the announcement by Western United FC of its intention to use Lakeside Stadium for a select number of games in the 2021/22 A-League Season.
"Lakeside Stadium and Albert Park is the home of South Melbourne FC and has been for over sixty years. Our licencing arrangements with Lakeside Stadium and the State Government ensures it will remain this way for decades to come.
"South Melbourne FC has a stadium, we have a home and we are proud to call it our own.
"Executives at Lakeside Stadium and Melbourne Sports Centres have advised South Melbourne FC that contrary to the announcement made by Western United FC, there is no written or signed agreement in place with Western United FC or the Australian Professional Leagues to allow Western United FC access to Lakeside Stadium for the 2021/22 A-League Season.
"South Melbourne considers Western United to be a direct competitor in the Melbourne, Victorian and Australian football market. Their acceptance to the A-League was based largely on the commitment to having a purpose-built football stadium constructed in Melbourne’s west.
"It is approaching three years since the A-League expansion clubs were announced and construction works have still not commenced. Western United’s use of Lakeside Stadium is not acceptable and South Melbourne FC will vigorously oppose any such plans.
"South Melbourne can confirm that it will be exercising all rights to prevent Western United FC from playing A-League matches at Lakeside Stadium.
"The club will provide its members, players, parents and supporters with further updates as information is available."
At present two A-league games are currently scheduled to take place at Lakeside Stadium, Western United's round two match against Perth Glory on Friday, November 26, 2021 and their round five match against Adelaide United on Friday, December 17, 2021.
The A-League season is set to start November 19, 2021. APL CEO Danny Townsend has conceded that the league is monitoring a number of factors that could change this.