Wellington Phoenix have insisted reports they are set to be granted a 10-year A-League licence extension are "premature".
Local press in Wellington claimed the Welnix group, who hold the club's licence, were on the verge of an agreement with Football Federation Australia (FFA) that would see Phoenix gain the needed tenure they have been seeking to significantly prolong their A-League stay.
A deal for a 10-year term would be widely considered as a substantial victory for Phoenix. However, there would be several agreements in place to ensure that the club continue to meet various agreed marks. Failure to do so would result in a review of their A-League status.
Previously, the FFA had offered term of just four years, amid talk that the Phoenix's licence could be transferred to a new Sydney franchise at end of this season.
FFA chief executive David Gallop was reportedly booked to fly to Wellington to join Welnix chairman Rob Morrison in confirming the news on Friday but confirmation has been pegged back by a week or two as all the relevant parties were unable to attend.
Despite the reports though, Phoenix were keen to play down the story and insisted talks were still continuing and large hurdles still lay ahead.
Reports that the Wellington Phoenix has been given an extension to its Hyundai A-League Licence are premature https://t.co/lpKh9FOhSd
— Wellington Phoenix (@WgtnPhoenixFC) January 13, 2016
The club’s general manager David Dome this afternoon added: “There are still complex negotiations to work through before any agreement can be finalised.
“Talks have been very positive but to say we have been given a 10-year extension is previous.”
Dome said the club would be making no further comment till there was a definite outcome to report.
Gallop almost single-handedly prompted the 'Save The Nix' campaign after calling out Welnix and the club back in October. He accused them of trying to "squat" on their licence and indicated the club had next to no future in the league.
"If you want longevity in the competition you need to produce results. That's part of the message that's been sent with the decision to reject the 10-year licence [extension]," Gallop said, at the time.
"We've welcomed a dialogue with Welnix. But on any metric they're not performing at a level we would like for the growth of the competition."
Gallop said Phoenix were competitive on the pitch, but "poor" off it.
"The metrics are pretty obvious: crowds, television ratings and membership. Those are the ones that are really going to make us sit up and take notice.” Gallop said.
Phoenix have had an average home crowd of 9,110, ranking them ahead of Perth Glory and Central Coast Mariners, while memberships are 4,950.