Western United chairman Jason Sourasis has admitted the A-League Men club were “naive” to declare they would be able to build a new stadium within two years of their inception.
The Victorian side, currently in their third season of competition, joined the A-Leagues after a bid that was centred heavily around the promise of building their own facilities.
Three years on though and Western remain without a home stadium with construction in Tarneit only beginning in March this year.
Sourasis conceded the club jumped the gun with their stadium timeline but believes they are now on the cusp of making real progress.
“Ultimately, publicly, we shouldn’t have come out with anything,” Sourasis told the Football From A to Z podcast.
“The previous management came out and said, ‘You know what, if we had a piece of land right now and were building on it, it would take two years to build’.
“That was correct. But to put it in a bid document and make public statements around it was wrong because ultimately we had a piece of land that was zoned ‘rural’. There’s nothing on it other than cows eating grass. You can’t build anything on it.
“We came out and I’m not blaming anyone…but I think it was a bit naive to come out and say it’s two years to build a stadium.
“Yeah it is if you have electricity, hot water, gas, roads, services to build a stadium. Whereas this is a city centre we’re building…there was no water, no gas, no electricity, no roads, no permit approval.
“The state government then stepped in saying, ‘We don’t want Wyndham approving their own deal’ so then they added another hurdle. So when we had that land approved, then we had to go to state government to formally approve which took another six to 12 months.
“From now, I’m happy to say it’s two years to build a stadium because we’re spending money on the roads, on the services, we’ve actually got planning approval. We’re full steam ahead now.”
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— Western United FC (@wufcofficial) April 21, 2022
While Western United have quickly performed well on the field and are chasing a maiden title this season, they have struggled to attract big crowds with their games played across a handful of different venues.
Sourasis is hopeful the club could have a home ground of sorts ready sometime next season as Western look to make the most of their own training facilities.
“We’ve got 9,000 members and we are nomads. We’ve played in Tassie, Ballarat, Western Oval, Marvel, AAMI, get kicked out of AAMI, get told to go to South Melbourne by the state government and then kicked out of South Melbourne,” he said.
“There’s no rectangular stadiums in the state…we’ll be playing out of our own rectangular stadium half way through or towards the end of next season or the season after.
“We’re building a 5,000-seat rectangular stadium in our elite training facilities that can still house an A-League game.
“My mentality and our board’s mentality is that I’d rather pack out a 5,000-seat rectangular stadium than play at a 40,000-seat oval stadium and have 5,000 people there.”
Western United next face Central Coast Mariners in the A-League Men in Gosford on Saturday afternoon where a win would take them top of the table with two games remaining.