13 Dec 2018

Football: Phoenix future gets even murkier

3:27 pm on 13 December 2018

The future of the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League football competition has got even murkier, receiving a far from ringing endorsement from the new chair of Football Federation Australia.

The competition will expand to 12 teams in the next two seasons, but the FFA is refusing to say what that means for New Zealand's only team in the competition - the Phoenix.

Western Melbourne will join the league next season with South West Sydney entering in 2020.

The Phoenix have a licence through until 2020 but in announcing the two additional sides today, new FFA chairman Chris Nikou said it would be "disrespectful" to comment on the future of the Phoenix.

Nikou says the FFA and the Phoenix continue to work together.

Wellington Phoenix Sarpreet Singh celebrates a goal with teammates during a match against Melbourne City FC.
Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne City FC, Hyundai A-League, QBE Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand. 14 April 2018. © Copyright Image: Marc Shannon / www.photosport.nz.

What future will the Phoenix have in the A-League beyond 2020? Photo: © Photosport Ltd

"They've got a right to be in the A-League (but) they know what they need to do to maintain that. (FFA) management works as closely as possible with them to get to the metrics we expect.

"Ultimately it's a contract between the FFA and Wellington and I don't want to pre-empt any discussion but they know what they need to do to stay in the game."

The Phoenix signed a 10-year conditional licence with the FFA in 2016.

The first four years were guaranteed, while further three-year extensions were contingent on meeting certain targets, such as attendance figures and television viewership.

The operating model for the competition is currently underview and the chief executive of the FFA David Gallop said "there's a lot of complexity to negotiating what a new operating model for the A league will look like and one of the factors, perhaps not the biggest factor, is how that places Wellington in the future of the competition."

Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop

Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop Photo: Photosport

Nikou wouldn't reveal what discussions the FFA board had about the Phoenix not being part of the A League competition.