WIN Stadium's bid for Sydney FC, del Piero

Alessandro del Piero Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Alessandro del Piero Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Wollongong has never hosted an A-League match, but the football-starved steel city could end up with one of the biggest games in the competition's short history if Sydney FC end up signing Italian superstar Alessandro del Piero.

Returfing work has forced the Sky Blues to shift from their normal home ground, Allianz Stadium, for the match against Perth Glory on October 28, and WIN Stadium has emerged as the most likely replacement ahead of the two other venues under consideration - Kogarah and Leichhardt.

Now, with the chance of del Piero joining Sydney FC growing stronger by the hour, what would potentially be just his second "home" appearance of the season would almost certainly become a sell-out.

Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata won't say which of the three venues will get the nod, but it is certain the three stadium operators will need to come up with new offers if del Piero is part of the equation.

The club plans to make a decision by the end of next week, by which time the outcome of their pursuit of del Piero will be known. There are indications a deal could be done as early as Monday.

"We've had very strong discussions with all three venues," said Pignata.

"But whatever we have talked about, the next 48 hours could change that. If we do get him [del Piero], we're pretty confident he'll sell out any of the three grounds.

It will then come down to the contractual arrangements."

While the Sky Blues would certainly drive a harder bargain with the venue operators if del Piero is in the squad, Wollongong remains in pole position. Not only does WIN Stadium have a slightly bigger capacity (23,000) than Kogarah and Leichhardt (both 22,000), it can seat more spectators in more comfort after the multimillion-dollar upgrades of the northern and western stands.

Wollongong hasn't hosted a competitive professional fixture since the Wollongong Wolves left the top flight following the closure of the NSL in 2004, and Sydney FC are well aware of how keen the locals are to end the eight-year drought.

"We love the stadium," said Pignata.

"The refurbishment is brilliant, the pitch is top notch, and you can build a real football atmosphere in there.

"If this [signing del Piero] does come, it would be great to do something in that region. Not only is there a big Italian community in Wollongong, but it's got a proud football history. My feeling is they're crying out to have another big game down there."


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