Exciting draw for Phoenix

MORE games, more rivalries and two big clashes outside Wellington for the first time – Wellington Phoenix fans have cause for excitement following the release of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season draw.

MORE games, more rivalries and two big clashes outside Wellington for the first time – Wellington Phoenix fans have cause for excitement following the release of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season draw.

The Phoenix kick off their 2009/10 campaign away against the Newcastle Jets on Sunday, August 9, before turning out in front of the club-s faithful for the home opener at Westpac Stadium against Perth Glory on Sunday, August 16.

With new clubs North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United taking part this season, the competition has been expanded to 27 regular season rounds involving 10 teams.

The Phoenix will play 13 of their 27 matches at home, with two of those home matches to be played outside Wellington for the first time. The venues for those two matches are Palmerston North (round 18, Saturday, December 12 v Sydney FC) and Christchurch (round 25, Saturday, January 30 v Adelaide United).

The draw is also notable for a midweek home fixture on Wednesday, November 4, against Newcastle at Westpac Stadium.

Of the 11 matches scheduled at Westpac Stadium, the Phoenix will play four Friday night fixtures, two Saturday night fixtures and five Sunday fixtures. The Phoenix will host the Fury, Adelaide, the Central Coast Mariners and the Glory twice each during the regular season.

Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata was pleased with the draw.

“There-ll be 27 games – the competition needed more games – and 13 of those will be at home for us. Having the two new clubs involved is really going to spark interest, as will the race for a top-six playoff spot in the 10-team competition.”

Pignata said the Phoenix had been given a good mix of times and days for matches.

“After reviewing last season it was clear the fans wanted more Friday night games and to a certain extent we-ve got that this season with four Friday night games. It-s important to note that formulating a draw is a complex matter, with the requirements of host broadcasters Sky Sport and Fox Sport having to be taken in to account as well other issues such as venue availability.”

The unavailability of Westpac Stadium for the round 18 and 25 home matches had forced the Phoenix to move those two games to Palmerston North-s FMG Stadium and Christchurch respectively. The Mainland match is most likely to take place at AMI Stadium.

Pignata said the Palmerston North and Christchurch fixtures were exciting opportunities for the Phoenix.

“The unavailability of Westpac Stadium due to turf renovation and a schedule clash with a concert obviously was the motivating factor but we saw it as a fantastic chance to take matches to other centres so fans in the lower and central North Island in the case of the Palmerston North game and those in the South Island with the Christchurch fixture can enjoy a top-flight football match.

“Some local fans may be disappointed but our season members will still be able to attend those two matches as part of their memberships and we-re confident that many of them will go to one or both of those games and make them fun road trips.

“We are a Wellington club – the capital is our home – but we do want to spread our wings and connect with fans of the Phoenix and of football elsewhere in the country.”

As expected, the Pre-Season Cup competition has been spiked.

“The competition has been brought forward and that meant there was no time for the Pre-Season Cup, though we will be playing Melbourne here in New Zealand and the Mariners in Australia,” Pignata said.

“We are yet to decide what we-ll do with the Melbourne games and where we-ll take it. We-re in the midst of sorting that out now.”

Wellington Phoenix 2009/10 season draw key points:

13 of 27 matches at home
11 games at Westpac Stadium
Two home fixtures relocated, one to Palmerston North (round 18 v Sydney FC on Saturday, December 12) and one to Christchurch (round 25 v Adelaide United on Saturday, January 30)
Four Friday night matches at Westpac Stadium
One Saturday night match at Westpac Stadium
Five Sunday matches at Westpac Stadium
One Wednesday match at Westpac Stadium
Phoenix to host Fury, Adelaide, the Mariners and the Glory twice each during the season

See the full draw by clicking here