Parramatta Eels call for separate seating

A Premier League-style policy of separating rival fans at ANZ Stadium is being hailed by Parramatta and the NRL, who will seriously consider making an Eels-Tigers clash a permanent Easter Monday fixture.

A crowd of 50,668 watched Wests Tigers clinch a thriller 21-18 over their western Sydney opponents, prompting both clubs to signal they will lobby to ensure the encounter is pencilled in for the public holiday for next year's competition and beyond.

It is a request that is a strong chance of being given the green light by the NRL.

"We will always look favourably on building marquee matches into the schedule and particularly where we can work with clubs who support the strategies and that was evidenced [on Monday] by both clubs and their supporter bases being really heavily engaged in the pre-promotion of that game," NRL head of football Todd Greenberg said on Tuesday.

"In dealing with the draw, we've shown with games like Anzac Day, and with Good Friday with the Bulldogs and the Rabbitohs, that if we can find certain slots that draw big attendances we'll always support it.

"Clearly [Monday's] event worked and we'll review that with the clubs, but certainly we'll look favourably on those requests with the draw."

The electric and tribal atmosphere at ANZ was assisted by efforts to separate fans from both teams, a policy first implemented in a club game there when 74,549 Eels and Bulldogs fans split the arena right down the middle for a semi-final in 2009. The split seating, and resulting large swathe of blue in the stadium, is also a feature of State of Origin matches at Olympic Park.

Greenberg, who was Canterbury CEO in 2009, said the ploy "worked a treat" again on Monday with huge blocks of Eels and Tigers supporters, who enjoyed reciprocal member rights, seated in different areas.

The strategy is not being forced on fans, they can choose to sit in any section of the venue, but Parramatta are supportive of it and hope to replicate a similar sense of theatre in upcoming derbies against the ANZ-based Bulldogs on June 15 and August 14.

Supporters of rival clubs are separated according to their allegiance in England's Premier League and other football leagues for different reasons. The practice was established in England to stamp out violence and hooliganism, but the Eels say the NRL can learn from it.

"Breaking the crowds up just really creates that atmosphere with fans being able to sit together and cheer for their team," Parramatta chief executive Scott Seward said. "It adds to the experience for people, that you've got a bit of friendly fire around you. It is the Premier League model.

"The word 'blockbuster' can be used really loosely but it's actually about creating an event, and I think's that what we did [on Monday]. We created an event."

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