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Volume 6 No. 197


It has been billed as "Sydney’s greatest soap opera" and "like any great drama," there could be a "surprising twist in the tail" for Allianz and ANZ Stadiums as "D-Day threatens to turn into another day of delay," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Amid speculation that a cabinet meeting on Thursday "would finally provide some clarity on the NSW government’s stadiums strategy," there are "growing fears" that an announcement will be stalled until next week at the earliest. The wait "goes on." NSW State Sports Minister Stuart Ayres attended an NSW Rugby League event in the shadows of ANZ Stadium on Wednesday and "refused to even confirm he would put the futures of the city’s biggest sporting venues before cabinet." The expectation is that he will propose a A$2B ($1.6B) redevelopment that would allow for both venues to be rebuilt, "although that could result in the NSW government delaying any formal announcement" as it balances the books and potentially looks to "justify the increased expenditure by procuring more content from the major sports." The National Rugby League has "already committed 20 years of grand finals to Sydney once ANZ Stadium is turned into a state-of-the-art rectangular venue." There "are many" who suspect that Ayres "has done his best to delay a decision on the stadium strategy to aid the cause of Allianz Stadium." He "may be delaying the inevitable when it comes to the grand final." Ayres: "I want to make this very, very clear -- we want to invest a significant amount of taxpayer funds in renewing our sporting infrastructure in NSW. I won't be giving up the grand final lightly" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/19).

WAR OF WORDS: In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley "has ridiculed suggestions Allianz Stadium is a potential death trap," claiming the government's push to knock down and rebuild the venue could jeopardize the 20-year commitment to stage NRL grand finals in Sydney. Ayres: "The occupancy certificate is that we have until 2019 to correct a number of the occupancy safety and security issues in the stadium." Foley "slammed the safety concerns as rubbish," labeling them part of a campaign to "divert funds from ANZ." He said, "They have dropped stories to the papers saying people are going to die, yet they still play there the next Saturday. Do you think any government, if people were at risk of dying in a government-owned venue, would open it the next weekend for a footy game? It's just rubbish" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/18).

Construction consortium Ghemlanco proposed a new design and extra funding for the Eurostadium in Brussels in a "last-minute effort to push ahead with the controversial project" for Euro 2020, according to Samindra Kunti of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. UEFA has given a deadline for "clarity on the stadium build" of Nov. 20. Ghemlanco redesigned the stadium "to allow for a capacity reduction" from 60,000 to 40,000 after Euro 2020. It also promised to invest €30M-€40M ($35.4M-$47.2M) "to ensure good mobility around the stadium as the Brussels' ring road is Belgium's main traffic artery." In '14, UEFA selected Brussels as one of the 13 venues to host Euro 2020. The Belgian capital proposed the "Eurostadium," a "state-of-the-art all-seater stadium on the outskirts of the city," to replace the Heysel Stadium and stage its matches. The construction of the stadium has, however, faced "plenty of bureaucratic obstacles and delays." Belgian First Division A side Anderlecht, which was initially slated to play at the new venue, "reacted indifferently to the new plans." Club spokesperson David Steegen said, "We have not had official contact with Ghelamco for 18 months. So we can hardly take a stance" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 10/18).

A bidding team for an A-League license in south Sydney "took a major step" toward "gaining entry for an expanded competition" after receiving council approval to build a 30,000-capacity stadium as well as a training center in the Sutherland Shire, according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Southern Expansion -- a consortium looking to establish a football club representing Wollongong and the south of Sydney -- was "given the green light" by Sutherland Shire Council on Monday for "in principle" support for the establishment of a professional football precinct in Loftus and an academy in Barden Ridge. It includes eight full-sized pitches at the Ridge Sporting Complex to be used for potential W-League, A-League and National Youth League teams as well as its junior academies. However, the "jewel in the crown of the proposal" is a football-specific stadium to be built at a nearby site in Loftus that will seat between 25,000 and 30,000 supporters. It is understood funding for the stadium will "largely be provided" by Southern Expansion's Hong Kong-listed investor, property group JiaYuan. The group reportedly pledged A$300M ($235.4M) toward a privately-owned football stadium for the A-League expansion group and councilors "unanimously approved a feasibility study put forward to them" at Monday's meeting (SMH, 10/18).

League Championship side Leeds United "moved a step closer to securing a site for a new training ground after Leeds City Council agreed to enter into one-to-one negotiations with the club over a proposed site." The plan would see land at the former Matthew Murray High School site "used to create training facilities for senior and academy players." The council's exec board also recommended the creation of a new "Community Sports Village" at Elland Road's Fullerton Park site (SKY SPORTS, 10/18).

Southwark Council won its "latest battle with the property developers" trying to build Isthmian League Premier Division side Dulwich Hamlet a new 4,000-seat stadium, throwing Meadow Partners' redevelopment plans "into turmoil" and leaving the club's future "increasingly unclear." Southwark has been trying to take back the lease for land it owns from Dulwich Hamlet, which has leased it "for years." That land is where Dulwich's new ground "would be under Meadow's development plans, and those plans, which involve building 155 residential units, cannot proceed without the lease" (London INDEPENDENT, 10/18).