Football officials will be part of a committee formed to run the WACA Ground if a co-location with cricket goes ahead under a funding proposal put to the State Government.
The WACA’s bid for $175 million to redevelop its historic East Perth headquarters will be presented to the new Government as part of a radical change to the State’s football and cricket landscape.
The WACA and WA Football Commission want to build a joint administration and training facility at the ground.
But 25 years after the WACA successfully resisted a bid by football to have a formal role in the management of the cricket ground, chief executive Christina Matthews revealed that the winter sport would have unprecedented influence over the WACA if the joint facility was built.
The two sports were already working together through their joint co-location engagement committee, which is chaired by former West Coast chairman Mike Smith and includes Ms Matthews and her WAFC counterpart Gavin Taylor, WACA president Ken Michael and board member Darren Wates and football commissioner Cheryl Edwardes.
“We have jumped ahead to formalise what will happen if we do go ahead and co-locate,” Ms Matthews said. “This is the committee that would manage the ground together. We have brought that forward, so we are moving in the same direction.”
The WACA would need the approval of its 8000 members to give up its 132-year hold on the ground, a constitutional move that is likely to provoke fierce resistance from its mostly conservative membership.
It would also parallel the situation in the early 1990s when the WACA fought off a bid by football and the government to establish a trust to run the ground.
A group of highly influential members is mobilising to resist the WACA’s proposal to remove representatives of its 16 premier league clubs, the founders of the WACA in 1885, from its board structure.
Ms Matthews confirmed the original funding proposal to the previous government would not change. She expected a response within several months.
“We have to give the Government a certain amount of time to settle down but we would expect a reasonable hearing as we have got in the past,” she said. “We will set up meetings with the Department of Sport and Recreation with a view to them supporting a recommendation to the new Government.”
Ms Matthews has also been counselled by the WACA board to abandon her crusade to introduce gender-neutral language into the sport in WA.
The WACA received a backlash from members last week when retiring Warriors captain Adam Voges was referred to as a “batter” in an official press release.
“I just about choked on my cornflakes when I saw that,” board member Tom Percy told 6IX.
“The only batter worth having is at Cicerello’s.”
Ms Matthews said the terms “batter” and “nightwatch” were used in error by a staff member who was confused over the terminology.
“There was never any intent that we would change our language in a way that is different to the laws of cricket,” Ms Matthews said.
“We will continue to use the traditional language of the game.”