Football 3 years ago

NZ soccer states Phoenix A-League support

  • NZ soccer states Phoenix A-League support

Speculation over the identity of a potential new A-League club has intensified, after Football Federation Australia sharpened the sword for Wellington Phoenix's downfall.

The Phoenix could exit the competition as soon as next season following the FFA's decision on Monday not to grant their request for a 10-year licence extension.

The New Zealand franchise, whose licence expires at the end of this season, are yet to confirm whether they will take up the governing body's option to request a four-year extension and gain temporary respite.

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However given FFA boss David Gallop's assertion that the board's unwillingness to stretch their life beyond that was "in the best interests of Australian football", to stay until 2019/20 may only prolong the inevitable.

Gallop cited game development, player pathways, commercial factors and broadcast rights as factors for the board's rebuttal following protracted negotiations with Phoenix owners Welnix, who were pushing for long-term sustainability.

The financial element aside, the club has the added complication of distance and the fact that it falls under the Oceania Football Confederation and not Asia, like the competition's nine Australian outfits.

If Wellington were to leave, it would present an opportunity for a 10th Australian team to enter the league as a replacement and fuels reports of a potential new franchise in southern Sydney.

Shaping as favourites are the Sutherland Shire or St George areas, both of which have big local talent pools and are seen as regions which could quickly gain traction with fans.

A NSW South Coast club may also be an option, with National Premier Leagues NSW side the Wollongong Wolves known to have A-League ambitions, while there have been suggestions a joint southern Sydney-Illawarra venture could create a viable new fan base.

The ACT's governing body Capital Football has also lobbied for a Canberra team to join the fray.

Last week Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold was sceptical about the possibility of five NSW-based sides in a 10-team competition, saying it was simply too many for a national league.

Should a third Sydney team joined the Sky Blues and the Western Sydney Wanderers, it would mean an increase in derby fixtures from three to nine each season.

"I know that derbies are special but how many derbies can you have? Maybe Brisbane needs one, maybe Adelaide could do with one," Arnold said.

"Do we need another one? We've already got four teams in NSW. A fifth will maybe make one too many."

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