Suncorp snub leaves Queensland fans in the cold
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.”