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Mariners and Phoenix to clash in Canberra

By Michael Reid - 29 April 2016 3

Wellington mayor and Andrew Barr (2)

Canberra will host an A-League match between Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix later this year.

The clash at GIO Stadium is likely to take place in November in the early rounds of the 2016/17 season.

Canberrans have demonstrated an appetite for elite sports in recent years, especially football.

There were strong crowds at Canberra Stadium for the Asian Cup matches in January 2015, including two sell-out games, and another bumper crowd for the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifier at the same venue in November when Tim Cahill fired home the second in a 3-0 victory against Kyrgyzstan in front of 19,412 fans.

The Mariners have enjoyed strong connections with the capital in recent years.

Current Socceroos and Celtic star Tom Rogic played his junior football with Tuggeranong United and at senior level with ANU and Belconnen United before joining the A-League club for two successful seasons in 2012.

Central Coast played two A-League home matches in Canberra in 2009, beating Perth Glory and Adelaide United, and in the 2015/16 pre-season the club spent a week in the capital where they played against Canberra Olympic and Gungahlin United and participated in a range of community activities and coaching  clinics.

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr joined with the mayor of Wellington Ms Celia Wade-Brown to announce the clash and raised the prospect of further national league games in the capital in future seasons.

“I’m delighted that the Central Coast Mariners have partnered with the ACT Government to bring this clash to Canberra, and I hope to see many more A-League games in Canberra over the coming years,” he said.

Mr Barr added the fixture announcement was further evidence of the strong relationship developing between the two capital cities, which will be linked by direct international flights starting later this year.

“There are a number of opportunities for economic and cultural exchange when direct international flights connect Canberra and Wellington from September,” he said.

“We have already announced that the Australian cricket team will face New Zealand later this year at Manuka Oval, with New Zealand fans able to travel directly to Canberra to watch the match and enjoy our city in the summer months.”

Mayor Wade-Brown said she was delighted to see further links developing between Wellington and Canberra.

“The Anzac capitals have much in common,” she said. “The best city relationships have connections on every level: economic, political, tourism, environmental, cultural and sporting.

“This game is an excellent opportunity for Wellingtonians and Phoenix fans to take the Singapore Airlines direct flights across the ditch to Canberra to see the match. They can enjoy a weekend in Australia’s capital, which has so much to offer in the way of museums, galleries, outdoor activities and shopping.”

Capital Football president Mark O’Neill said hosting an A-League match would have a range of benefits for football in Canberra.

“This match presents a significant opportunity for Capital Football to develop relationships and continue to grow our future prospects of bringing the A-League to Canberra on a regular basis,” Mr O’Neill said.

Central Coast Mariners chief executive Shaun Mielekamp said he was excited to re-affirm the club’s relationship with Canberra.

“We see this is a first step towards forming a long term strategic partnership with the region,” he said.

“We are committed to doing as much as we can in the lead-up to help community football grow and our partnership with Capital Football will help us achieve this.”

Photo: ACT chief minister Andrew Barr and Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown at the announcement.

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