The decision to postpone this weekend’s A-League Women clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Canberra United has been met with derision, as questions are raised about the professionalism of the competition.
The round five match was scheduled to be played in Bathurst but a pitch inspection two weeks ago showed it wasn’t suitable after cool conditions impacted its ability to recover after the rugby league season.
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The search for another venue was made more difficult due to resurfacing at the Wanderers’ main home ground at Blacktown. A new date for the fixture is expected to be announced on Thursday.
Former Matildas player and current Canberra United captain Michelle Heyman posted on Instagram saying the decision to postpone the match was “another step backwards”.
Her teammate, Australian-born Serbian international Vesna Milivojević, followed up later on Wednesday, echoing her captain’s sentiments. “A ‘professional’ football game just got cancelled because: there are no fields available. Great job A-Leagues,” Milivojević said.
The A-Leagues explained on Wednesday that the match was postponed “following unseasonably cool conditions that have impacted the pitch’s preparation in the run-up to the fixture”, prompting the social media posts from the Canberra players.
Their frustration was exacerbated by the fact Canberra did not play last week due to planned opponents Sydney FC being involved in the AFC Women’s Club Championship in Uzbekistan. It left the side without a match for two consecutive weekends. The upcoming international window means they will only play one match in a month.
Canberra offered to host the match, but that offer was rejected due to concerns around the integrity of the season.
Instead, the clubs and the league considered switching this weekend’s fixture with Canberra’s home game against the Wanderers in March. However Bathurst, Blacktown, Commbank Stadium and Marconi Stadium were unavailable that weekend. Other dates and venues are now being considered with a new date set to be announced.
“The APL has been working with Western Sydney Wanderers and Canberra United for the last two weeks to explore several options for this fixture,” an A-Leagues spokesperson said. “This includes alternate venues and dates, as well as the possibility of reversing the fixtures.”
They rejected the notion that finding a ground was straightforward, saying all venues needed to meet standards in terms of the quality of pitch, broadcast infrastructure, commercial suitability, hospitality, having an enclosed ground, ticketing, and facilities including minimum seats in change rooms, and privacy showers.
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Canberra United had been informed the match would not go ahead at Bathurst on 3 November, and were advised on 8 November that it would be postponed, although the news was made public only on Wednesday.
Kym Westwood, a Bathurst football fan who had already bought tickets for her and her husband, said the whole situation was disappointing.
“We just had the Women’s World Cup here and we went to a few of the matches in Sydney – it’s just that hype of female soccer at the moment,” she said.
“I’ve always been a Matildas fan who loves soccer so it’s not new to me, but it’s new to a lot of people I think, and people were probably really excited. It’s just upsetting that they’re like ‘we’re gonna have a game’ and then all sudden ‘we’ll take it away from you straightaway’.”
Tickets will be honoured for the rescheduled game or refunded.