WAFL could return to home of football
Patersons Stadium could be used to host regular WAFL home-and-away fixtures under a new broadcast arrangement under discussion

WAFL matches may return to Patersons Stadium in 2016 as a potential commercial television broadcast agreement recasts the league landscape.

As WAFL presidents were adamant that they would oppose any move to reduce the home-and- away season to 18 matches, the television-quality lighting at the Subiaco stadium has made it a possible alternative to the traditional suburban grounds.

The WA Football Commission is negotiating with Channel 7 to cover the WAFL for the next three years.

AFL commitments mean that Patersons Stadium would not be used for WAFL matches next year, apart from the grand final and Foxtel Cup fixtures, but it has been mooted as an ideal site for games to be broadcast beyond next season.

Seven West Media, which operates Channel 7 and is the publisher of _The West Australian _, has said previously that production issues meant it made sense to limit broadcast games to one or two venues.

Medibank Stadium and Lathlain Park, as well as the WACA Ground, are considered the most likely venues.

But WAFC chief operating officer Nick Sautner confirmed that Patersons Stadium, which has hosted football since 1906, was also a possible location.

"Any opportunities that arise to showcase our premier State league competition at WA's home of football would be explored in close consultation with the nine WAFL clubs," Sautner said.

"Given Patersons Stadium's utilisation for AFL games and training sessions, it is unlikely that home-and-away WAFL games would be scheduled at the ground in 2015."

WAFL home-and-away games have not been played at Patersons for the past 11 years - apart from a centenary match in 2008.

Channel 7 has flagged that WAFL broadcast matches would be scheduled between AFL fixtures, meaning that many would be played at night.

Medibank Stadium, the home of East Perth and Subiaco, would require upgraded lighting while the planned redevelopment of Lathlain Park will include television quality lights.

The WACA Ground has not hosted football for a decade but is eager to attract a winter tenant.

WAFL presidents received a briefing this week on the commission's bid to attract about $1 million in sponsorship to underwrite the Channel 7 deal.

Most presidents were reluctant to see the season reduced and suggested that it could include several non-broadcast rounds if the Channel 7 model covered only 18 rounds.

"We will not accept a reduction from the current 20 home-and- away matches," West Perth president Brett Raponi said.

And Swan Districts president Peter Hodyl said the loss of a home game could be crippling.

"We need 10 home games," he said. "Swans would not support an 18-match season."

The West Australian

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