Oval deal nears

THE Fremantle Dockers women’s team is expected to pack Freo Oval with 10,000 fans for its first “home” game this weekend, but where it’ll play in the future is still up in the air.

The team has been training in Freo and will play two games at the oval, but will join the men’s team at the new $109 million stadium at Cockburn Central when it opens this year.

Its final two home matches will be at Domain Stadium in Perth.

“…match venues are determined by the AFL so we won’t know until the 2018 fixture is released the location of our games next year,” says Dockers PR manager Kasey Ball.

This week Fremantle council announced it was close to reaching an agreement with the Dockers to surrender the club’s lease on Fremantle Oval.

The Herald understands the city will pay less than $4 million to the Dockers to compensate for the loss of the oval clubhouse it built in 2000.

Negotiations have been tense, but Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt says that if everything goes to plan in the next few weeks, the deal would be a “good outcome for ratepayers”.

The Dockers exit would allow the city to proceed with its masterplan for the site, which involves co-locating South and East Fremantle footy clubs at the oval and redeveloping the Stan Reilly building.

But the WA Football Commission, which helped broker the co-location, is currently reviewing the WALF structure and there’s increasing speculation a secret report might recommend some club mergers.

Both East Fremantle president Mark Stewart and South Fremantle president Haydn Raitt have indicated they’d fight any moves to bang the clubs together.

The clubs fear the WAFL could return to an eight-team competition via forced mergers or closure of cash-strapped clubs.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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