Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata says he’s expecting an A-League record crowd from the opening round Sydney Derby.
Western Sydney Wanderers will host the Sky Blues at the 83,500-capacity ANZ Stadium for the first time in the opening round blockbuster following the 2016-17 fixtures release last week.
The past 10 derbies have sold out, with the capacity limitations of the previous venues restricting numbers.
The A-League record attendance of 55,436 from the 2006-07 Grand Final at Etihad Stadum between Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United is clearly under threat.
“I expect there to be a record crowd,” Pignata told FourFourTwo.
“I think there will be some real excitement for the first game at ANZ Stadium.
“The second Sydney Derby at Allianz Stadium will also be a cauldron of noise and atmosphere for which we are expecting another sell-out.”
Pignata said that the Sky Blues were happy with their draw, which he felt provides Sydney fans with an ideal mix on dates.
“The season draw announcement is that moment when you really start to get excited about the new season,” he said.
“We can’t wait to get going and it won’t be long before that challenge is upon us. Our draw really contains something for everyone.
“We’ve a good number of Saturday night games which we know our Members love as well as some exciting looking Sunday fixtures, particularly the one against Melbourne Victory.
“There are also plenty of family friendly kick off times too and our three Friday night games should attract those people who want to end the working week with a great night out.”
Even with two home derbies last term, Sydney’s crowds dropped to an average of 16,071, the club’s lowest in five years, prior to Alessandro Del Piero’s stint.
Pignata was delighted Sydney still managed to grow membership by more than 1,500 up to 13,154 last season despite that and poor on-field results.
“I think the crowds were affected partly by the team’s performance but also by Sydney’s inclement weather which were unlucky with this season,” he said.
“(Our Membership growth) is a major positive and shows we are continuing to grow and expand as a club and a game.
“Our Membership is going up and the club is reducing the amount we lose each year.”
On the draw, Pignata added: “We were keen to get an early beyondblue Cup game which is exciting and we were happy to have that in November.
“The second Sydney Derby at Allianz Stadium falls during the holiday period in January so we are anticipating another fantastic atmosphere and sell-out crowd.”
© 2016 FourFourTwo | This article was written by Ben Somerford and first appeared on FourFourTwo on 17 June 2016.