Football Federation Australia (FFA) imposed new lighting restrictions on local clubs after the A-League powerhouse was matched against Stirling, ruling out Macedonia Park as a venue.
The decision has drawn criticism from local clubs and Football West, with the State Government admitting it would have preferred to see the FFA match take place at the Stirling venue.
Stirling Lions head of football operations Don Evans said the club felt robbed and questioned the point of the inaugural FFA cup if it didn’t allow Australia’s smaller clubs to bring A-League giants to their communities.
‘Robbed and deprived; when we were in that lottery draw, we understood the terms and conditions, and we’d already passed the approval test and the suitability of our venue,’ Mr Evans said.
‘What they’ve done is flex the muscle of the power brokers in the east against West Australian development.
‘This was all about the little club getting to play the giant and having a David and Goliath battle occurring in suburbia for the locals to enjoy.’
In a letter addressed to the chief executive of Football Federation Australia (FFA), Football West chairman Liam Twigger criticised the governing body for acting against exactly what the FFA cup was designed for.
‘You personally ask the football community to help sell the romance, yet when two of the far-flung and unknown outposts of WA community football get drawn against A-League clubs, in one fell swoop they are told they can not host matches because their venue does not meet criteria the FFA does not even stipulate in their venue requirements document,’ Mr Twigger said.
‘To have FFA at the last moment raise such issues is not acceptable, it is in direct conflict with the stated aims of the FFA cup and will cause not only prejudice, but financial loss to the clubs concerned.’
Mr Evans said although disappointed, the club had to refocus ahead of next month’s game, set to be held at the new Perry Lakes Athletics stadium.
‘For us, we have to turn this anger into positive energy and focus on the job at hand and I think our players will respond in that manner,’ he said.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Sport and Recreation said she understood the reasons behind the FFA’s decision.
‘The FFA have established lighting requirements in conjunction with the players association, which the athletics stadium complies with,’ she said.
‘Of course it would be preferable for the clubs to be able to use their own venues.’
The FFA did not respond to questions before deadline.