Sun­corp snub leaves Queens­land fans in the cold

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - MARCO MONTEVERDE

FOOT­BALL Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia has cho­sen money over Queens­land fans in snub­bing Sun­corp Sta­dium for the Soc­ceroos’ World Cup qual­i­fier against Thai­land on Septem­ber 5.

FFA is yet to make the an­nounce­ment, but the match, which is piv­otal to Aus­tralia’s hopes of avoid­ing a play­off to qual­ify for next year’s World Cup in Rus­sia, will be played at Mel­bourne’s AAMI Park.

The Soc­ceroos twice played at Sun­corp Sta­dium dur­ing the 2015 Asian Cup, but haven’t con­tested a World Cup qual­i­fier in Queens­land since their 1- 1 draw at the Mil­ton venue with Ja­pan on June 12, 2012 in front of 40,189 peo­ple.

Since then, not in­clud­ing the Septem­ber 5 game, Aus­tralia have hosted 11 World Cup qual­i­fiers on home soil. Four have been played in Syd­ney, two in Mel­bourne, Perth and Ade­laide, and one in Can­berra.

There was a strong feel­ing Bris­bane de­served the Aus­tralia- Thai­land match as Queens­land fans have been starved of World Cup qual­i­fiers for more than five years.

How­ever, de­spite the state gov­ern­ment hav­ing bid for the game via Tourism and Events Queens­land, sen­ti­ment did not come into FFA’s choice of venue.

“We made an of­fer in good faith,” TEQ group ex­ec­u­tive Me­gan Saunders said.

De­spite the Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion hav­ing al­ready in­di­cated the game is be­ing played at the “Mel­bourne Rec­tan­gu­lar Sta­dium”, the non- spon­sored ti­tle of AAMI Park, FFA will not con­firm the match venue un­til the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment.

But with cost- cut­ting mea­sures tak­ing place at FFA, it is un­der­stood it was con­sid­ered a “no brainer” for the more lu­cra­tive Vic­to­rian bid to be pre­ferred over Queens­land’s of­fer.

The Bul­letin has also been told Sun­corp Sta­dium’s costs and its play­ing sur­face also hurt Bris­bane’s chances of host­ing the match.

How­ever, Sun­corp Sta­dium gen­eral man­ager Alan Gra­ham re­jected the venue cost and sur­face had been fac­tors in FFA’s de­ci­sion.

“We gave them a su­per deal and we even went back to them to rene­go­ti­ate,” Gra­ham said.

“If sta­dium costs are an is­sue, then how are we able to at­tract so many top- class events to Sun­corp Sta­dium?

“With the field, there has never been an is­sue with the grass at that time of year.”

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