EXCLUSIVE

Campbelltown Stadium could play part in Women's World Cup if bid is successful

Rosemeadow's Alanna Kennedy playing in an Olympic qualifier at Campbelltown Stadium earlier this year. Picture: Chris Lane
Rosemeadow's Alanna Kennedy playing in an Olympic qualifier at Campbelltown Stadium earlier this year. Picture: Chris Lane

Campbelltown Council hopes Campbelltown Sports Stadium will play a role in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup if the Australia/New Zealand bid is successful.

Despite the NRL backing away from the suburban ground for this week's round of rugby league matches, the council has faith the stadium can play a big part in the Australia sporting landscape in the future.

FIFA will make an announcement on the successful bid for the tournament at 2am tomorrow (Friday, June 26), with just Australia/New Zealand and Colombia remaining in contention.

While Campbelltown Sports Stadium would not host any actual World Cup matches if the bid does fall in Australia's favour - the expected result - the council believes it would be the perfect base for a variety of other uses.

"We have put Campbelltown Sports Stadium forward for the Australian/New Zealand FIFA Women's World Cup organising committee as a venue to host pre-tournament warm-up matches, training camps and any other opportunity that may arise should the bid be successful," Jenny Franke, the council's director of city lifestyles, said.

The stadium has made headlines in the past week due to suggestions the playing surface was not up to scratch.

The NRL utilised the stadium to hold a host of matches following the resumption of the season after the coronavirus break.

But after a few Manly-Waringah Sea Eagles players were injured on the field during the last round, the NRL has moved tonight's scheduled match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs to Kogarah's Netstrata Jubilee Stadium instead.

The NRL's Graham Annesely said the league was confident the surface was not actually responsible for the players' injuries, despite the move.

"We want [the teams] to play on the best possible surface and just given the wear and tear Campbelltown has been under since we've come back from our break, [the Panthers-Rabbitohs] game was moved] to give the players the best possible opportunity to play on a surface that's going to do the game justice," he said at NRL.com.

Ms Franke said the council 'understood' the NRL's decision to make a move away from the local ground.

"Campbelltown Sports Stadium staff have worked closely with the NRL to host a heavy schedule of games in a short timeframe to assist with the resumption of the rugby league season," she said.

"Last week, the ground passed all the tolerance tests conducted by an independent NRL stadium assessor, who determined that the playing surface was up to standard.

"The combination of the heavy game load and wet weather had some visible impact on the grounds and we understand the NRL's decision to move [Thursday's] game to another venue."

The Wests Tigers, which uses Campbelltown Stadium as one of its three home grounds, this week also announced its decision to move the club's Round 8 home game away from Campbelltown.

The club will now face Penrith at Parrmatta's Bankwest Stadium instead, which has a far greater capacity.

The move comes as relaxed biosecurity measures will allow a larger number of fans to attend games in person from July 2.

"Being able to play our next home game at Bankwest Stadium is a great result for our club because it allows over three times the number of loyal and passionate members the chance to watch us live for the first time this year," Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said.

"Our members have been tremendously supportive and patient throughout this time and we're incredibly thankful for their ongoing commitment to this club.

"To be able to welcome many of them to a home game for the first time this season is a great result for all involved and we're looking forward to having a vocal crowd cheering us on next Saturday."

Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic recently told the Advertiser - in his Campbelltown Matters column - that he was pleased the stadium was receiving so much use.

"It's been fantastic to see our stadium showcased each week to a national audience with the resumption of the NRL season," he said.

"I look forward to welcoming crowds back into the stadium when it's safe to do so.

"I'm really proud of our stadium team who quickly prepared the pitch and made sure it's ready each week."

Campbelltown Stadium hosted several Olympic qualifying matches between Australia, China, Thailand and Chinese Taipei earlier this year after the coronvirus outbreak in Wuhan forced them to be moved.

The stadium was also the base for the Chinese team in the 2015 Asian Cup.