FFA requirements prevents Bayswater City from hosting National Finals Series match at Frank Drago Reserve

The temporary fence installed at Frank Drago Reserve.
The temporary fence installed at Frank Drago Reserve.
The temporary fence installed at Frank Drago Reserve. The temporary fence installed at Frank Drago Reserve.

NATIONAL Premier Leagues WA (NPL WA) champions Bayswater City will not host Victorian champions Heidelberg United at Frank Drago Reserve after Football Federation Australia (FFA) said a recently installed temporary fence did not comply with pitch requirements.

The match will now be played at Inglewood Stadium.

Bayswater City’s 2017 premiership gave it the chance to host Heidelberg United in the National Finals Series on September 16 but it was told by the FFA two weeks ago it had to widen the pitch at Frank Drago Reserve from 62m to 64m by installing a temporary fence.

The club’s vice-president Oriano Colli said the fence was installed at a cost of $600 to the club and an independent engineer approved the grounds for crowd control but the FFA informed them on September 4 that the pitch was not compliant.

“Football West along with the Football Federation Australia said ‘if you guys remove your fence, widen your pitch and put a temporary fence in; that would be adequate for the game’,” he said.

“We widened the pitch based on their recommendation; they really misled us.”

An FFA spokesman said the temporary fence did not match FFA’s minimum venue requirements of 64m to 75m in width and 100m to 110m in length so the club had to nominate another venue.

A Football West spokesman said if the club wanted to host future NPL finals it would have to install a fully-enclosed permanent fence.

“Although teams prefer to play home games at their regular grounds, the venue in Inglewood is within a seven-minute drive of Bayswater City’s home ground,” he said.

City of Bayswater Mayor Barry McKenna said the City and the club worked on turf renovations and the professional installation of a crowd barrier last week and was disappointed with the outcome.

“We feel the limited advice from FFA and last minute inspection time hampered our combined efforts to address any shortfalls in the new pitch requirements,” he said.

Cr McKenna said the City would continue to work with the club, FFA and Football West to rectify pitch requirements at Frank Drago Reserve.

Mr Colli said while the club was prepared to install a permanent fence if it beat Heidelberg and hosted the next round, but said the club did not have an “abundance of cash”.

“The chances are we will not be hosting a game this year and it will have to be next year,” he said.

“We did the deal on September 5 with Inglewood United (but) we don’t get the bar or the canteen… the manifest of hosting at a different venue would probably be in the region of about $5000.

“It is disappointing from the FFA, because they have not been accommodating to the semi-professional clubs that are run by volunteers, especially in WA where we have limited resources and we are doing everything we can.”

Bayswater City will play Heidelberg United at Inglewood Stadium on September 16.

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