WELLINGTON Phoenix FC’s eligibility to play in the Australian Hyundai A-League competition has been confirmed till at least the end of the 2015/16 season.
WELLINGTON Phoenix FC-s eligibility to play in the Australian Hyundai A-League competition has been confirmed till at least the end of the 2015/16 season.
The five-year license extension puts an end to a long period of speculation about the New Zealand-based club-s future after concerns were raised about it taking part in a competition in a different country and confederation beyond the 2010/11 season.
The Hyundai A-League is governed by Football Federation Australia, which is part of the Asian Football Confederation. The Phoenix, while registered as an Australian club, resides in New Zealand, which is part of the Oceania Football Confederation.
OFC president Reynald Temarii met with AFC counterpart Mohamed Bin Hamam at a Fifa meeting in Zurich last month, with both confederation bosses agreeing the Phoenix-s license to play in the Hyundai A-League should be extended.
The Phoenix will now be able to play in the Hyundai A-League till at least the end of the 2015/16 season under current license conditions.
“This is great news,” said Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata. “We-ve cleared this hurdle in terms of extending the club-s participation in the Hyundai A-League and we-re going to be around for many years to come.”
The Phoenix-s cause had been strongly supported by the FFA and chairman Frank Lowy, as well as by New Zealand Football and the Oceania confederation.
“It was a major issue and there was a lot of work that had to be done behind the scenes,” said Pignata. “There was a lot of lobbying by the FFA, New Zealand Football and Oceania and we-re very grateful to them for their support. Since joining the competition in 2007 we-ve shown we-re worthy of remaining involved long-term.”
Formal ratification of the agreement will come at Fifa-s executive committee meeting in Johannesburg in June.
Pignata said the Phoenix could now get on with planning for the future.
“While we had this issue there was uncertainty hanging over us and the fans regarding how long we would be around. Now that it-s been resolved we can get on with the job of continuing the great strides that have been made building a strong and successful club.”
Club owner Terry Serepisos was pleased the issue had been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
“My ambition for the Phoenix has always been long-term and it-s fantastic that as a club we can now put any doubts or uncertainty around the future behind us.”