Wellington Phoenix will continue to ply its trade in the A-League after Football Federation Australia (FFA) granted the New Zealand-based club an extended 10-year licence to play in the country’s top tier of domestic football.
The club has been awarded an initial four-year licence, which will run until the end of the 2019-20 A-League season. As the club is competing in a league based outside its home country and confederation the extension requires the ratification of Fifa, football’s global governing body, as well as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and New Zealand Football (NZF).
Wellington will be granted two further extensions through until 2022-23 and then 2025-26 if it can meet specific targets. The two renewals will be dependent on the club improving increasing its financial contribution to the A-League.
The future of the franchise had been up in the air after it saw a request for a 10-year licence denied by the FFA last October. The FFA instead offered Wellington a four-year deal, which would become effective upon the expiration of its current deal at the end of the 2015-16 season. That offer has now been accepted, along with the two further renewals.
The club faced criticism from FFA chief executive David Gallop, who felt Wellington had not done enough to justify its position in the A-League. Speculation had been mounting that Wellington would be replaced by a Sydney-based franchise, but a compromise has now been reached.
“Garnering greater nationwide support was seen as critical, as were the benchmarks on crowds and payments to the A-League,” FFA chairman Steven Lowy said. “The Welnix Group has always had the good of the game at the forefront of its ambition and that is recognised in this renewed commitment to the A-League.”
Gallop added: “The Welnix Group has been a stable supporter of the club in Wellington but now we join each other in a new phase to grow Wellington Phoenix and work together to ensure the long-term security works hand in hand with increases in key performance indicators (average crowds) and revenue streams (including TV rights fees) for the club and the league as a whole.”
Wellington has competed in the A-League since the 2007-08 season. It is currently ninth in the table ahead of its trip to the Newcastle Jets tomorrow (Saturday).