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AFL and GWS commit to Canberra
By Matthew Sadler
14:57 AEST Wed Nov 10 2010
AFL club GWS will play regular matches in Canberra.
AFL club GWS will play regular matches in Canberra under a new agreement with the ACT government.

The AFL have made their biggest commitment to Canberra, with new franchise Greater Western Sydney to play 30 regular-season matches in the national capital from 2012 onwards.

The ACT government has committed $2.35 million annually towards the decade-long partnership, which will also see Manuka Oval host a pre-season match every year from 2012 when GWS enter the competition as the AFL's 18th club.

"No longer have you got a fly-in, fly-out couple of games," GWS chief executive Dale Holmes said on Wednesday.

"What you've got is part of a club forever and we really see this as a very meaningful and long-term presence.

"I think it is the most significant day in the history of AFL in Canberra."

The balance of GWS' home games will be played at the Sydney Showgrounds and ANZ Stadium.

Manuka Oval will host only one regular season match in 2011 - the round-seven game between the Western Bulldogs and Sydney.

North Melbourne and Melbourne have also hosted matches in Canberra in recent years but the deal with GWS is much more comprehensive.

GWS coach Kevin Sheedy predicted that every one of the club's three matches each year at Manuka Oval - which has a current capacity of 13,550 - would be a sellout.

"We will market this game correctly particularly for this city because you have waited for so long and you deserve a great team coming here to play every year forever," said Sheedy.

"It's taken that long to get here. You stay here. That's how it goes."

In other announcements, GWS will establish an ACT Academy to develop local talent, while the GWS reserves team will play in the ACT competition.

GWS will also wear an ACT-specific stylised jumper for their home games in Canberra.

"This is a strong partnership between government, community, business, the AFL and Team GWS," AFL Commissioner Sam Mostyn said.

"... This has come about after a spirited and committed ACT4GWS campaign where the community said it was ready, willing and able to support an AFL team that not only represented the ACT on the national stage but was also committed to the development of the game and local talent in the ACT."

The deal between the ACT government, the AFL and GWS was more than two years in the making.