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Dogs, Demons to play in Canberra

Wednesday, 16 August 2006. 14:24 (AEDT)Wednesday, 16 August 2006. 13:24 (ACST)Wednesday, 16 August 2006. 13:24 (AEST)Wednesday, 16 August 2006. 14:24 (ACDT)Wednesday, 16 August 2006. 11:24 (AWST)
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Rodney Eade says the new deal is better than the current arrangement.Getty Images

The Western Bulldogs and Melbourne will play matches at Canberra's Manuka Oval from next year.

In a new deal announced by the AFL today, the clubs will play one home game each per season at the ground for the next three years.

The AFL will also schedule a preseason cup match and a preseason practice match at Manuka Oval.

The package replaces the Kangaroos' three home games, which have been shifted to the Gold Coast.

AFL chief operating officer Ben Buckley said Sydney would be scheduled as the away team for at least one of the two regular season matches.

"It may be two, we're not locked into that at this stage. We need some degree of flexibility in who plays as the away teams but certainly there's a lot of interest in Sydney and we need to recognise that when we do the fixture," he said.

Mr Buckley added he did not believe support for the code in Canberra would drop following the Kangaroos' departure.

"People who have become Kangaroos members are passionate football supporters as well as being supporters of the Kangaroos Football Club, so we expect that they'll come and be interested in the mix of teams that we have."

As part of the new deal, the Western Bulldogs will no longer play a home match in Sydney at the SCG.

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade said he was happy with the new deal, but reiterated his preference to play in Melbourne.

"Certainly the preferred option from the football department and the club is to play all our home games in Melbourne," he said.

"That's what we're striving for and hopefully in three years time we'll be able to have all our home games in Melbourne."

Eade said the new deal was better than the current arrangement.

"I think the biggest issue with the two games away was actually playing on non-neutral grounds, playing on someone else's home ground like we did in Sydney. I think it's too big an advantage for them," he said.

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