NEWCASTLE Jets will play a pre-season friendly game against Football Mid North Coast’s Northern and Southern selections next year on a Sunday afternoon.
This will be a change from the last two years, when the match was played on a Tuesday night at the Port Macquarie Regional Stadium.
The venue has yet to be determined and this will depend on when the Jets make their now annual pilgrimage to the Mid North Coast.
“Port Macquarie Regional Stadium is the Jets’ preferred venue and if it’s available that’s where the game will be played,’’ Football Mid North Coast (FMNC) chairman Mike Parsons said.
Parsons said it “wouldn’t be possible” for the club to bring their W-League team up on the same weekend, however he did indicate alternative arrangements could be made.
“Their seasons don’t coincide, but we would also be looking at organising a tournament for our SAP kids,” he said.
“We would be hosting the weekend for the W-League team in what would be a bit of a gala weekend.”
The Jets would be expected to make the trip north in July or August and there’s no guarantee the stadium would be available.
It is used extensively during the winter, principally by Group Three rugby league clubs Port Macquarie and Port City.
Mr Parsons said FMNC would look to play the game at the Harry Elliott Oval at Tuncurry if the Port stadium is ruled out.
“That’s our other option,’’ he said.
While the Elliott Oval is used by Forster-Tuncurry Rugby League Club there would be greater flexibility in arranging a date to fit in with the Newcastle visit.
Mr Parsons said he has received no indication when the Jets might head north next year and given the A-League season is underway, the visit wouldn’t be too high on the club’s list priorities at the moment.
This makes it impossible for Football Mid North Coast to book the stadium before the Group Three Rugby League 2019 draw is finalised.
Mr Parsons said playing in the afternoon has several advantages.
This year’s night game only went ahead following frenzied negotiations when it was revealed the lights at the regional stadium didn’t meet FIFA standards.
Mr Parsons revealed the go ahead to play the match wasn’t received until the day before the match.
“Obviously playing in the afternoon means we don't have to worry about the lights,’’ he said.
“We also think an afternoon game would be more family-friendly than a match played at night during winter.
“The plan would be for the Jets to come up on the Saturday and go around to local club games and have a bit of interaction there.”
Last July’s game at Port Macquarie drew a crowd of 4200. Mr Parsons is confident of a similar or better turnout for an afternoon game.
Football Mid North Coast played the premier league grand finals at the Elliott Oval this year. There have been calls previously to play the Newcastle game in the southern section of the zone.
“We do try and take our marquee games around the zone,’’ Mr Parsons countered.
“Our premier league grand finals were at Tuncurry this year while the Jets W-League team played a trial in Taree in October.’’
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