Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata has publicly slammed the AFL, declaring the code “scared” of football not to allow Etihad Stadium to host Sunday’s Hyundai A-League Grand Final between Victory and the Sky Blues.
Melbourne Victory will host fierce rivals Sydney FC at 30,000 capacity AAMI Park and not Etihad Stadium, where more than 50,000 fans would have flocked in to watch the highly-anticipated decider.
The Sky Blues are disappointed only 3500 of their 12,000 members will be able to get tickets to the match due to the reduced capacity.
Pignata labelled the AFL a “disgrace” for not shifting Sunday’s game between Western Bulldogs and Fremantle to another venue.
“I’m from Melbourne, I follow AFL and enjoy the footy — just as a lot of the fans who go to the game will be AFL followers,” Pignata told The Daily Telegraph.
“But I just don’t know what the AFL are scared of. Really it’s a disgrace they wouldn’t agree to move the Bulldogs game.
“AAMI Park is a great venue from a footballing purists’ point of view. It’ll be packed to the rafters and a great atmosphere.
“But we have 12,000 members, and only a quarter of them will be able to get tickets. They’re really angry and understandably so.
"I’ve had loads of messages via social media and it’s very unfair that almost three-quarters of our members can’t get a ticket.”
Pignata said it would have been great for the match to be moved to ANZ Stadium in Sydney but acknowledged Victory had earned the right to host the season’s showpiece match.
Former Victorian Premier Denis Napthine was also critical of the decision.
While the situation has angered the Sky Blues chief, coach Graham Arnold looked at the bright side.
“The good thing about that is there’s only going to be 25,000 there [at AAMI Park] and not 55,000 so it shouldn’t be too daunting down there,” Arnold told reporters after Saturday night’s win over Adelaide United.
The Sky Blues are unbeaten on the road all season and have drawn all three matches with Victory.