Melbourne City will have to travel to Sydney to play its home semi-final against Macarthur FC after the A-League opted to relocate the game to allow fans to attend, rather than hold it behind closed doors.
City had held out hope of a small crowd being able to attend Sunday’s game at AAMI Park but those plans were scuppered by the Victorian government ruling out crowds in Melbourne this weekend, despite easing coronavirus restrictions.
The A-League premiers earned a home semi-final by finishing on top of the table, and will have the right to host the grand final if it progresses to the decider.
City will now have to travel to play at Jubilee Stadium against Macarthur, who are based in south-western Sydney.
By now you would have seen the decision by the APL to move Sunday’s SF to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in NSW.
We are, alongside every City fan, extremely disappointed by this decision and want you to know that we did everything in our power to keep the game at home.
— Melbourne City FC (@MelbourneCity) June 17, 2021
The news is a massive blow to City, which is already without Socceroos trio Jamie Maclaren, Connor Metcalfe and Curtis Good for finals.
“We are, alongside every City fan, extremely disappointed by this decision and we want you to know that we did everything in our power to keep the game at home,” City said in a statement.
“… If as we’re striving for, grand final qualification is achieved, we’ll once again pick up the fight to have crowds at home.”
It is the second consecutive year City has had to play a home semi-final away from Melbourne after last season was completed in a NSW hub.
“I share the frustration of Melbourne City and the club’s supporters that the home A-League semi final they had earned by being premiers can’t be played at AAMI Park,” Australian Professional Leagues commissioner Greg O’Rourke said.
“But with the game due to be played in less than four days, we have had to make the decision to move it to Sydney so that both teams can plan accordingly.
“Should Melbourne City win through and earn the right to host the A-League 2021 grand final, we very much hope that their supporters will be able to attend in person at AAMI Park should restrictions by then allow it.”
Playing the game at Kogarah should also avoid complications around travel restrictions for Macarthur if it wins and have to travel to Adelaide – provided the Reds beat Sydney FC in the other semi-final and earn grand final hosting rights.
Macarthur finished sixth in the regular season and beat third-placed Central Coast in their elimination final to progress to the semi-final.