Perth Glory's home ground has become a million-dollar headache for owner Tony Sage, with the mining entrepreneur threatening to move his A-League club to a new venue unless a better deal can be struck with nib Stadium.
Sage estimates he could lose up to $2.1 million this season running Perth Glory, of which he attributes around $1.2 million to the overall cost of hiring out nib Stadium for home games.
A shift to Patersons Stadium – formerly Subiaco Oval – remains a possibility for next season, but Sage is also exploring the idea of upgrading an existing local stadium and shifting Glory there down the track.
Sage revealed he had already explored several sites, and said it could cost as little as $5 million to get an existing local stadium up to scratch with a capacity of 12,000, possibly in time for the 2015-16 campaign.
Perth has become fed up with its deal at nib Stadium which, ironically, is managed by the company of former Glory owner Nick Tana.
Glory chief executive Paul Kelly said the exorbitant costs of hiring out nib Stadium meant the club needed to attract 13,500 fans to home games just to break even.
But with the venue's $95-million redevelopment in full swing, capacity has been reduced to less than 9800 this season, bringing the stadium issue to a head.
"I'm going to go anywhere where it's less expensive for Perth Glory to play," Sage declared.
"Building a stadium from scratch will obviously cost you tens of millions. There's no way I'm going to spend tens of millions on a stadium no matter how much I'm getting ripped off.
"So upgrading an existing stadium is the next best thing.
"I'm paying an extra million dollars a year more than any other club (purely on stadium costs at our current venue) so, over four or five years, I can get that back by shifting to a new stadium."
Sage said he remained "very committed" to staying at the helm of Perth Glory, despite losing around $14.9 million since taking over from Football Federation Australia in 2007.
And after pouring in between $30,000 and $60,000 of his own money for each game his club plays at nib Stadium, Sage said it was time for Tana to give Glory "a fair go".
Fans are expected to flock to nib Stadium on Saturday night to see former England international Emile Heskey in action as Newcastle takes on Perth.
But with the venue's reduced capacity, there's a distinct possibility swathes of fans will be turned away at the gate.
Australia's triumphant Socceroos have celebrated booking a place in next year's 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil with hundreds of fans in Sydney on Wednesday.