Wagga City Wanderers will once again be the beneficiaries of a home-heavy schedule during the 2018 season, which is set to kick off on March 24.
Located more than 400 kilometres from every other State League club, most of which are Sydney-based, the Wanderers have been granted 14 of their 22 games at home.
Wanderers director Brendan Flanagan said the nature of his club’s schedule showed an encouraging level of commitment from Football NSW.
“They’re committed to developing the game in regional areas and it’s good of them to do this for us,” he said.
“It’s good of the other clubs as well, because the agreement we have means that about every three years, each club has to make two trips to Wagga instead of the usual one-off.”
Flanagan said the positive effects of the schedule would be far-reaching.
“Having all those home games is fantastic for the town too,” he said.
“It showcases the town and the region.”
“It brings lots of high-level teams and good quality football to town and it’s also a bonus for Wagga financially by bringing lots of people here.”
The only potential problem for the Wanderers is that three of their games are scheduled to be played at either 6pm or 7pm, which means the team would return home as late as 3am the next day.
That could present problems for the players aiming to back up in the Pascoe Cup the following day.
But Flanagan indicated he was not looking a gift horse in the mouth, while noting that the club has successfully negotiated the situation in the past and would do so again.
The Wanderers will begin their season against the Western Condors, who finished eighth last season.
They will then face sides which finished fourth, seventh and ninth in 2017.
But Flanagan warned against reading too much into where sides finished last season.
“Things can change a lot over the offseason with clubs being able to strengthen up very quickly,” he said.
“There are just so many good players readily available all the time, especially in metro areas.”
The club’s 22 games is an increase on last season’s 18, with the addition of South Coast Flame, Central Coast United and Balmain Tigers to the first-grade competition.