AFL's four points to be earned on foreign shores for first time
Wednesday, September 12 2012 @ 12:30 am ACST
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
In a story World Footy News has been following for some time, the St Kilda Football Club today announced their partnership with Wellington City Council in New Zealand, which will see the Saints become the first AFL club to play for AFL Premiership points outside of Australia.
In a history making agreement between St Kilda FC, the AFL and Wellington City Council, the Saints will play the Sydney Swans at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand on ANZAC Day in 2013.
Years of specualtion as to when and where this would happen on the World Footy News website are now over as the deal has been finally made.
Next year, St Kilda Football Club will celebrate its 140th Anniversary and Saints’ President Greg Westaway said this announcement marks another major milestone in the Club’s rich history.
“This is a significant moment, not only in the history of the St Kilda Football Club but also for the AFL.”
“St Kilda, with the strong support of the AFL, is very proud to be at the forefront of promoting and growing our sport internationally,” Greg Westaway said.
This agreement will see an annual AFL Premiership game played on ANZAC Day at Wellington’s world-class Westpac Stadium. The start time for this will see the match played after the traditional game held at the MCG and broadcast live into Australia.
The AFL has confirmed St Kilda’s opponent for ANZAC Day 2013 will be the Sydney Swans.
“ANZAC Day is historically and culturally significant to Australians and New Zealanders, and St Kilda is honoured to have the opportunity to be part of what will be an historic day,” concluded Mr Westaway.
The intent for the St Kilda FC, the AFL and Wellington City Council is for this to be a long term commitment, with an initial term of the agreement set for three years, on the basis it satisfies all parties’ objectives after the first year.
While this agreement has the potential to deliver long lasting commercial benefits to the Saints, Club Chief Executive Officer Michael Nettlefold said it is also the Saints intention is to work closely with the AFL through a number of existing community programs in New Zealand, particularly throughout the Wellington region.
“From the outset, the Wellington City Council has shared our vision and can see the unique opportunities this partnership presents for all parties,” explained Mr Nettlefold.
Wellington City Council’s Sports & Events Leader, Councillor John Morrison said; “This is a fantastic opportunity for New Zealand’s capital city and the country. We thank St Kilda for their professionalism and enthusiasm for the partnership and the support of the AFL for bringing this concept to our city”.
“We are looking forward to showcasing the AFL game and in turn promoting Wellington to all AFL fans,” Councillor Morrison added.
The AFL is also pleased to be working closely with VECCI and business groups in both Australia and New Zealand to create a unique ‘business/trade/tourism platform’ using this historic match in Wellington and the on-going partnership as its underlying theme.
AFL Chief Operating Officer Gillon McLachlan said he wanted to thank the Wellington City Council and the St Kilda Football Club for their work in achieving this partnership.
“This is a landmark agreement with the Wellington City Council for St Kilda to play a premiership season match outside of our country for the first time.”
“By commemorating ANZAC Day and the shared history around this day for our two countries, we will again strengthen the bonds between New Zealand and Australia, and further expand the growth of our game.”
“The AFL has always been a meeting place for business and the opportunity for creating better trade links across the Tasman was seen by us as an important part of our program and we are very pleased with the response so far,” concluded Mr McLachlan.
VECCI CEO Mark Stone congratulated the St Kilda and the AFL on promoting this initiative and said that they were working towards announcing a business to business program in the near future.
“VECCI, St Kilda and the AFL have recognised this is a unique opportunity to get leading companies together around such an iconic game on such an iconic day. It will be a forum not to be missed,” said Mr Stone.
New Zealanders wishing to find out more about the Saints or to register interest in purchasing tickets or memberships should go to; www.saintsafl.co.nz