Sydney FC prepare for Leichhardt Oval switch

Sydney FC could spend at least two seasons playing at Leichhardt Oval as early as next year, should Allianz Stadium jump the queue in the state government's stadium plan.

This season could be the Sky Blues' last at Allianz Stadium in its current format with the venue set for an earlier-than-expected upgrade. That could begin as early as May next year as safety concerns over deteriorating facilities at Moore Park may prompt a fast-tracking of the state government-funded renovations for a likely 45,000-seated arena.

Should Allianz Stadium leapfrog ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park on the list of priorities on the $1.6billion stadium plan, Sydney FC have already begun preparing to relocating to Leichhardt Oval while construction takes place.

The club identified the inner west because it is one of the largest catchment regions for Sydney FC members. It is also on the doorstep of rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.

While the southern corridor between the airport and Sutherland remains the strongest supporter base for the Sky Blues, the ability to turn the intimate, rectangular Leichhardt Oval into a cauldron-like atmosphere made it the preferred choice over Jubilee Oval at Kogarah. However, under the Leichhardt Oval plan, Sydney FC will play one or two games out of Jubilee Oval.

Due to the limited capacity of each venue, all home derby games against Western Sydney Wanderers will be held at ANZ Stadium.

Any potential move will likely require assistance with transport with additional match-day buses and light rail services to Lilyfield and possibly ferries to Iron Cove.

The Sky Blues have been infrequent tenants of Leichhardt Oval in recent years, but have already played two games at the venue during this pre-season. The club has often used Leichhardt as a training venue for its senior squad.

Inner West Council is already planning for upgrades to Leichhardt Oval. It is understood a minimum of $2 million will be spent in the coming months to improve the venue, on top of $3 million allocated previously. Inner West Council's new mayor, Darcy Byrne, is yet to meet with Sydney FC but says they will welcome the club.

"To have a prestigious and internationally recognised club like Sydney FC based out of Leichhardt Oval complementing Wests Tigers would be awesome," Byrne said. "I would be happy to work towards that and welcome negotiations with the A-League and Sydney FC."

The immediate priority for the council is to increase the number of Wests Tigers' games at Leichhardt but with the state government's focus on multi-use stadiums, Byrne says any potential renovation for the ground hinges on attracting more tenants.

This story Sydney FC prepare for Leichhardt Oval switch first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.