A record crowd for an Australian club football match will likely feature in the opening round of the A-League season with a Sydney derby set to take place at ANZ Stadium.
Football Federation Australia will release the draw for the 2016-17 season on Thursday and it is set to include Western Sydney Wanderers hosting Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, October 8.
A fixture normally reserved for the third round will be bumped to the opening weekend as part of an aggressive scheduling strategy that will likely trigger the biggest attendance in the competition's history.
Derby opener: Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC are set to face each other in the first round of the new A-League season. Photo: Getty Images
Not only will the most in-demand match be played at the 83,000-capacity venue for the first time, but the Wanderers are set to take advantage of the opportunity to fill the house with very affordable ticket pricing
All but one of the 12 previous meetings between the two clubs have been played in front of full houses with demand for tickets surging beyond supply which has often limited attendances of away fans. However, there should be no such problem on October 8 with sources suggesting initial forecasts for the opening round derby will lead to a crowd significantly greater than the record attendance of 55,436 set when Melbourne Victory hosted Adelaide United in the 2006-07 grand final.
After announcing their plans to relocate to Olympic Park for three seasons during the construction of their new home in Parramatta Stadium, the Wanderers will begin the season with an ambitious drive to increase members and attendances. With five games scheduled for ANZ this season and the remainder at the 24,000-capacity Spotless Stadium, there is an opportunity for the club to increase a membership base which had 2000 on a waiting list last season due to the limited capacity at Pirtek Stadium.
In a season being played against the backdrop of one of the most important broadcast negotiations in the game's history, the FFA is determined to make a strong start to the campaign after a meagre opening to the season last year.
The FFA and clubs are in the middle of talks with Nine, Seven and Ten as well as Fox Sports for a bumper TV deal to commence in 2017. The FFA hopes to at least double the current deal, which is worth $40 million per year. The governing body is determined to get off to a strong start in terms of profile, reception, audiences and attendances and a potential record crowd at a Sydney derby is seen as the ideal launching pad for the season.
The FFA is also hoping to lure big-name players with a centralised marquee fund. Details are set to be announced in the coming weeks.
Last season started with barely a murmur as a result of the pay dispute between the players and FFA as well as a minimal advertising budget. However, Fairfax Media understands the governing body will unveil an above-the-line marketing plan leading up to the new season's kick-off on October 7.
Despite filling Adelaide Oval on grand final day, champions Adelaide United do not have a match scheduled at the venue and will begin their season away to Newcastle.
Check out the first comment, where does this guy get his stats from?
Not sure how they can demand more money when even sbs the home of soccer want to dump it and soccer in this country gets zero ratings and falling crowds!! Don't think networks are that stupid, domestic soccer is desperate to get exposure but they rate less than netball and women's state cricket for viewing numbers.
The networks could halve the current amount and still be getting the raw end of the deal. Big Bash will again smash the soccer in the summer, ideally they should back flip and move their comp back to winter which they ran away from, but they are scared of the major codes consigning them to even lower standings than this year, which was pretty poor.
No market names, drawn out boring draws, a long way behind the major 3 codes in the country.