Is it time for Melbourne City to make a regional push?

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Next month the FFA will grant two new A-League licenses, expanding and reinvigorating a competition which has seen better days.

Of the six bids shortlisted, three are from Victoria – a state where a third license would breathe new life into its football discourse which is currently dominated by one team.

It will take time for a third Victorian club to surpass Victory on the food-chain, but what about Melbourne City?

Is City in danger of slipping further down the pecking order should a third licence be granted in Victoria?

The prospect of more derbies is an obvious incentive and given the amount of preparation and marketing these bids have invested in, it would be remiss to suggest a new team would be entering with anything less than a bang.

Despite being one of the best run clubs in the league, through the support of the City Football Group, such success has not transpired on the field or in the stands.

Unfortunately, not boasting Melbourne Victory levels of success makes it difficult to attract new fans.

A trophy cabinet home to only one FFA Cup is not much to go by and while the club has launched Aaron Mooy and Daniel Arzani to Europe, it has done little to increase membership and attendances.

In order for City to grow, they must expand their horizon and capitalise on football’s growth in rural areas.

The club has made a good start by signing a three-year deal with Greater Shepparton to host pre-season friendlies, which City announced ahead of this season.

But moving forward, what is stopping City from going a step further and playing one, if not more, home games in regional parts of the state?

Melbourne Victory’s dedicated game in Geelong continues to be a success with both Geelong and Melbourne-based fans getting behind it.

Considering City’s position, it is interesting why they are yet to adopt something similar.

The Latrobe City stadium in Morwell, formerly home to the Gippsland Falcons, has a capacity of 12,000 and would be perfect for a one-off Melbourne City home game.

It allows for the club’s supporter and membership base to grow in an untapped market without a heavy reliance on silverware to bring people through the gates.

 

Another option could be playing a home game in a growth corridor like Tasmania and establish a supporter base in the state similar to that of Hawthorn and North Melbourne in the AFL.

The club has to be adventurous and take the opportunities presented to them in order to grow, for the club can only grow so much organically with limited silverware.

Unlike the Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC, there is no clear distinction between the two Melbourne clubs – something Team Eleven, South Melbourne and the Western Melbourne group have tried to achieve by creating geographical distinctions.

It was always going to be difficult for the club to play catch-up with the A-League’s most successful club, but there are ways around it – one being a stronger community and regional presence.

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Athos Sirianos
Athos Sirianos
RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.

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