World game eyes Tassie

MELBOURNE Victory is eyeing off a bigger slice of the Tasmanian soccer market.

Speaking at the club's Launceston fixture with Central Coast Mariners last night, managing director Richard Wilson said the club hoped to follow the AFL's lead and have a presence at both ends of the state, which would see the club's premiership games in Tasmania double.

``The agreement we have with Football Federation Tasmania is three years for our Victory League (the statewide soccer competition sponsored by the club that will start this year) and this is the second year of a three-year deal to play an A-League game here,'' Wilson said.

``The big question for us and for Tasmania is whether we play the games here (after that deal), or down in Hobart, where you could probably see more than 12 or 13,000 people at a game there.

``I'd like to see a couple of games played here (a season): one here (at Aurora Stadium) and one in Hobart.

``We feel Tasmanians would want that and that would be an ideal scenario.''

Wilson confirmed that Bellerive Oval would be the preferred venue for any Southern Victory fixtures.

This would allow soccer to have a similar foothold in the state as the AFL, which has Hawthorn as a tenant at Aurora and North Melbourne at Bellerive.

Victory plays one preseason and one regular-season game in Launceston.

``The participation rates here with soccer is great, and the more we play here and the more we come down the better,'' Wilson said.

``Everything is a competition, but I think soccer in due course will find its way through in Tasmania.''

A crowd of 6238 last night saw a wasteful Victory escape with a 1-1 draw in  star striker Archie Thompson's 150th game.

Wilson described the crowd figure as encouraging.

It bettered the 5268 that saw the club have an identical result with Gold Coast last February.

The game was also used to raise funds for those affected by the bushfires in the state last week.

A total of $2091 was collected last night, with proceeds from ticket sales still to be determined.


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