Why WA Day is crucial for clubs
Why WA Day is crucial for clubs

WAFL clubs have urged the AFL to guarantee WA Day remains a stand-alone showcase for State football, saying the public holiday is by far the season's most important fixture.

Host clubs West Perth and South Fremantle are banking on a surge in crowds for their respective derbies on Monday after a move to trial an Eagles game on the same day last year was scrapped for 2014.

West Coast drew a healthy crowd of 37,781 for a round 10 twilight match against Richmond at Patersons Stadium on June 3 last year - the first time the club had hosted a game on a day synonymous with WAFL football.

But AFL chiefs agreed to drop the contentious fixture from their 2014 schedule in the wake of the Falcons, Bulldogs and East Fremantle all writing to league bosses asking them to respect the importance of the day's two traditional derbies in generating revenue and exposure for the local competition.

West Perth are expecting at least 5000 people to turn out for Monday's clash against East Perth after last year's corresponding fixture at Medibank Stadium attracted 4806.

Falcons president Brett Raponi said the showcase match was more vital than ever to the financial viability of both clubs.

"The gate can be as high as $50,000 to $80,000 if you get a reasonable crowd," he said.

"We get exposure on this day - it's probably the greatest - because there's no AFL on. If it gets good exposure, it keeps the competition relevant in the eyes of many who can't get to the football or the WAFL on a regular basis."

West Perth have the wood over their fiercest rivals, having won five of the past six meetings in a dominant run that has included last year's grand final and a record 100-point demolition of the Royals in round four this year.

East Perth football manager Mark Winnett said the showcase match was just as important to the players.

"Foundation Day is traditionally the biggest crowd they'll play in front of for the year outside of finals," he said.

Overall crowds for the two WA Day derbies fell from 11,743 in 2012 to 9926 last year.

East Fremantle chief executive Adam Kelly said revenue from last year's June derby against the Bulldogs had been down 30 per cent on the back of having to compete with West Coast.

"For a WAFL club, that's a significant impost," he said.

"We don't have other fixtures that even compare with this day.

"You can get the equivalent of your other nine home game attendance and gate takings in the one game."

A West Coast spokesman said the club had no plans to press the AFL for future games on WA Day.

The West Australian

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