Safe standing will be used in an Australian stadium for the first time on July 20, when Western Sydney Wanderers host Leeds United at Bankwest Stadium in a pre-season friendly.
It’ll also be the first football game to be played at the new 30,000-capacity stadium, more than three years after the Wanderers vacated the old Parramatta Stadium.
A small section was recently installed and tested by a group of Wanderers members and player Tarek Elrich.
The safe standing section will be expanded with rails to replace a total of 1260 seats at the northern end of Bankwest Stadium, allowing 1260 fans to safely stand without drawing the ire of security.
The Wanderers active support group, the Red and Black Bloc, previously packed out Parramatta Stadium and were up there with the best in the A-League, however several issues since relocating home games led to the group boycotting A-League matches. It’s hoped the return to Wanderland will also see the return of that strong support.
“This is a new beginning for the club,” said Elrich. “The fans, the players the coaches all expect results here and hopefully we can fill the Stadium.
“When the fans are out here supporting us we feel that on the pitch and we’d love to see this new active support area packed with the Red and Black.
“Leeds have a very rich culture and they’re a massive club so to have them come out here and play against us in the new stadium next month is something we’ll never forget.”
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The dedicated active support area is being hailed as a game-changer for fans and is expected to enhance the stadium atmosphere.
“This safe standing represents a landmark moment for Australian football,” said Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas.
“It’s something we’ve lobbied for long and hard and now it’s come to fruition. It's the first time an Australian football team has been able to have a safe standing area, and we’re glad to be leading the charge in terms of active support.
Leeds United will kick-off their tour of Australia with a match against Manchester United at Optus Stadium on July 17, while a match against new A-League team Western United has also been mooted. It’s the first time the English Championship side has toured Australia since 2002 when they beat Colo Colo in front of 22,000 fans at Colonial Stadium, as it was known as then.
The Western Sydney Wanderers are set to play all 13 home matches at Bankwest Stadium from the 2019/2020 Hyundai A-League season onwards.