A-League football will return to Tasmania for first time in eight years when Victorian club Western United play two home matches at York Park in Launceston this season.
United’s partnership with the Tasmanian Government and Football Tasmania will also have them playing two home games at York Park next season.
Since the start of the A-League in 2005, only two competition matches have been played in Tasmania.
They were hosted by Melbourne Victory, also at York Park, in the 2012-2013 season, with both games – against then A-League club Gold Coast United and Central Coast Mariners – finishing in 1-1 draws.
“On behalf of the Tasmanian football community, I’d like to thank Western United and the state government for bringing the A-League back to Tasmania,” Football Tasmania CEO Matt Bulkeley said.
“With close to 40,000 participants, football is Tasmania’s most-played team sport and continues to rise in popularity, especially among junior players.
“The next step in growing the sport in Tasmania is to increase the A-League’s presence, and partnerships like this are integral to maintaining football’s position as Tasmania’s most-played team sport.”
The A-League’s return to Tasmania comes as the state government is locked in a battle to have a team from the Apple Isle in the AFL.
While the AFL continues to deliberate on having a Tasmanian team, the state government seems willing to invest in other sports, with the Tasmanian Jack Jumpers joining the National Basketball League next season.
Western United CEO Chris Pehlivanis said the club’s partnership with the Tasmanian government and Football Tasmania was in keeping with the club’s “dream big” mantra.
“The shared values of being self-made and hardworking naturally align both the people from Victoria’s west and the Tasmanian community,” Pehlivanis said.
“In addition to growing the game of football at a grassroots level in Tasmania, our ambition is to also work with tourism bodies in Australia to give the industry a much-needed boost after a difficult 2020 and start to 2021 with COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures.
“We see sport as being in the business of entertainment, and entertainment and tourism go hand-in-hand.”
With the A-League’s flexible and rolling schedule, the dates and opponents for United’s two games at York Park this season are yet to be confirmed.
However, at least one, and possibly both, seem set to be played in April.
The partnership will also include a women’s exhibition match between Calder United and a local Tasmanian representative team.