SYDNEY FC chief executive Tony Pignata has left the door open for the club to bring a first ever A-League fixture to Wollongong.
The Sky Blues yesterday announced the 83,500 capacity ANZ Stadium would be the venue for their round four clash with Perth Glory, for which WIN Stadium was considered a front-runner.
Sydney FC's regular home ground of Allianz Stadium is unavailable on October 28 due to the playing surface being re-laid.
Only hours after confirming ANZ Stadium would host Alessandro Del Piero's second home fixture in the harbour city, Pignata told the Mercury he was "disappointed" Sydney FC couldn't create history in Wollongong.
When quizzed on how close the two-time A-League champions came to signing off the deal with WIN Stadium management, Pignata said: "Very close. We went down to Wollongong a few weeks ago and I thought it was just a fantastic stadium with what's been done.
"We would have loved to take the game to Wollongong for its first in the A-League, but with the signing of Alessandro Del Piero we just made a decision to allow more fans to come and watch the game."
Pignata said Sydney FC had set their sights on a 30,000 crowd for the Glory stoush, well in excess of WIN Stadium's 23,000 capacity.
Del Piero, a World Cup winner with Italy, has been the catalyst for Sydney FC's overwhelming demand for memberships and ticket sales since penning a two-year deal last week.
His appearance in Wollongong would have been a massive boost for football in the region.
Pignata was also complimentary of WIN Stadium general manager Stuart Barnes and business development and marketing manager Marc Swan.
"They were disappointed - as was I," Pignata said. "We'd gone so far down the track. They took it well and from my point of view and theirs, we've got a very good working relationship.
"If there's an opportunity that we can take another game down there we'll definitely look at it for next year."
Wollongong has hosted pre-season friendlies and women's internationals, but is yet to stage a fully fledged A-League fixture.
Chairman of Venues NSW John Quayle said his organisation would continue to work hard to bring top-level football to Wollongong.
"We have developed a strong relationship with Sydney FC and they have been very complimentary of WIN Stadium as a potential venue," he said.
"We will continue to hold discussions with Sydney FC and Football Federation Australia about the possibility of hosting an A-League football match in the Illawarra."