A-League boss Damien de Bohun has thrown his support behind the Wellington Phoenix but admits the “clock is ticking” on the club’s future in the Australian league.
Wellington’s A-League licence expires at the end of next season and the club is hoping to lock-in an extension sooner rather than later
De Bohun said Football Federation Australia held a productive meeting in New Zealand last week and both parties were hopeful of resolving Wellington’s future in “the next few months”.
“It’s an unusual circumstance as we need both FIFA and AFC approval – given they are in not just a different country, but a different confederation (Oceania),” he told footballaustralia.com.au.
He added: “We’re working on it actively.
“You get into the last season of a licence and that creates a bit of uncertainty. I think both parties want it resolved and we’re working openly to get to the right position. I’m sure we’ll get to where we need to.
“It’s a work in progress and the clock’s ticking. But we’re very focused in getting the right outcome for the competition. The team is doing very well on the field and some good crowds at their temporary venue.”
Phoenix are sitting in second spot on the A-League table and have emerged as genuine title-contenders but de Bohun conceded that the club’s broadcast value was an ongoing challenge.
“They understand that and we’re working with them on a range of fronts to help increase their broader contribution of value through broadcast rights and sponsorship in New Zealand,” he said.
“(...) Similar to Australia, New Zealand is starting to grasp that football is on the move and it’s a good time to get involved.”
Meanwhile, any thoughts of relocating the club from Westpac Stadium to Lower Hutt Rec permanently look to be a long way off.
The club made the switch during the Cricket World Cup, when Westpac was unavailable, but de Bohun said there were plenty of hoops to jump through if the arrangement was to be ongoing.
“Look, the local council and government would need to commit to make it a permanent venue, which is the bottom line,” he said.
“It’s been a community space almost that’s been turned into a stadium. And the guys in Wellington have worked their backsides off to get it up.
“As to the size of a venue we’ve learnt a lot about the Wanderers in terms of the right size venue and building demand for your product is a very, very good plan.
“And no doubt something like that would work well in Wellington but it would need to be a permanent stadium. There’s plenty of work to be done (at Lower Hutt) to make that happen.”comments