Football Federation Australia have granted Wellington Phoenix a 10-year A-League licence extension.
Under the incentivised deal announced by FFA chief executive David Gallop today, the Phoenix will be given an immediate four-year deal.
FFA will then award them two further three-year extensions that are dependent on a number of strict provisions, including improved broadcast rights from New Zealand, greater attendances and financial contributions to the A-League.
All extensions require authorisation from FIFA, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and New Zealand Football (NZF).
Gallop said the Phoenix’s long-term security will work hand in hand with those “key performance indicators”.
“We put in some benchmarks, some hurdles if you like, that will see the Phoenix grow and add value to the A-League,” he said.
“It’s taken months of negotiations but I think it’s a win-win for both sides.”
It ends the Phoenix’s long-running battle to secure their future in the A-League, after their request for a 10-year licence was declined by FFA last October.
The club, whose current licence expires at the end of this season, was instead offered a four-year deal.
That’s despite FFA previously extending the licences of all nine Australia-based clubs until 2034.
At the time Gallop was highly critical of the New Zealand-based franchise’s contribution to the competition.
He declared they could not simply “squat on a licence” when they had not performed well enough in a number of off-field “metrics” including crowds, TV ratings and membership, to guarantee their future.
It sparked widespread speculation that FFA were gearing up to replace Wellington as early as next season with a newly created A-League franchise, likely in Sydney.
Wellington chairman Rob Morrison acknowledged the lengthy negotiating process had been a frustrating one for fans, but said it was important to find a middle ground and was excited about the club’s future.
He admitted the hurdles would be “hard” to achieve, but doable.
“If we can’t reach the hurdles, we’re not doing the job we want … we’re on the same page as the FFA in terms of wanting to grow the club,” Morrison said.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was happy to have a job next season.
“It also makes signing and re-signing players a lot easier, knowing the licence is in place,” Merrick said.
“We’re going to have a very exciting squad next year.”
Help our journalists uncover the facts
In times like these InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to donate to InDaily.