Phoenix has to rise and prove its worth to the A-League

CHANGE NEEDED: Wellington Phoenix has to start filling stands at Westpac Stadium if it is to show FFA bosses it is worthy of keeping its place in the A-League set-up.
CHANGE NEEDED: Wellington Phoenix has to start filling stands at Westpac Stadium if it is to show FFA bosses it is worthy of keeping its place in the A-League set-up. Hagen Hopkins

LISTENING to the way David Gallop spoke out about Wellington Phoenix on Wednesday it seems quite obvious which way Football Federation Australia is leaning when it comes to the long-term future of the New Zealand club.

The FFA took the controversial step of declining Wellington's request for a 10-year licence, something which appears to have split the football world in these parts.

The Phoenix's licence runs out at the end of this season, but the FFA said the club had the option of requesting a four-year extension and would not consider extending the New Zealand outfit's position in the competition beyond that.

Wellington seems to be reluctant to take up that offer and I can understand why.

The club's hierarchy would find it difficult to attract players and sponsors to a club which could easily be out of business come the end of the 2019-20 season.

I can also understand that Wellington's powerbrokers would be upset at the rumours flying around that the A-League has been looking to bring in a third Sydney club, which at this stage looks like it would be instead of, rather than as well as the Phoenix.

FFA chief executive Gallop said the board's decision was made "in the best interests of Australian football".

Brisbane Roar's Daniel Bowles, left, contests the ball with Phoenix's Kwabena Appiah-Kubi in the A-League match at Westpac Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Ross Setford/AAP Images
Brisbane Roar's Daniel Bowles, left, contests the ball with Phoenix's Kwabena Appiah-Kubi in the A-League match at Westpac Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Ross Setford/AAP Images

Wellington stalwart Andrew Durante does not quite see it like that, saying it would be a huge blow if the Phoenix did fold.

"It's unfathomable," Durante said.

"To see this club go under would be pretty shocking for the kids of New Zealand, footballers, up-and-coming aspiring kids, even the younger players we have here at the Phoenix through the academies.

"It would destroy football (in New Zealand) in my opinion if the club was to go under."

I can see Durante's point of view, but I can also see why Gallop was loathe to hand out licences like boxes of chocolates, although last year the FFA extended the length of the licences of all nine Australia-based clubs until 2034.

In relation to the Wellington knockback, Gallop said poor crowds, television ratings and memberships were three key metrics where the Phoenix had failed to deliver.

He also said the ball was in Wellington's court, and he is right about that.

The A-League has been burned before with clubs including the New Zealand Knights, Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury all falling by the wayside.

I would not like to see Wellington Phoenix go the same way, but the powers that be across the Tasman have to work hard to show just what the club can bring to the competition.0

I personally think a New Zealand team adds to the A-League, but sadly it isn't me the Wellington Phoenix hierarchy has to convince.



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