Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick says transfer plans will move into top gear following today’s announcement that the club’s Hyundai A-League licence has been extended.
An upbeat Merrick fronted the media on Friday at the announcement of the club’s 10-year licence extension in the Hyundai A-League.
The Phoenix coach is now planning transfers ahead of next season safe in the knowledge that the club’s future is assured.
“It makes signing players and re-signing players a lot easier knowing the licence is in place and we’re pretty keen to have a very exciting squad next year,” he said.
In recent times Phoenix have been linked with Melbourne Victory’s Kiwi striker Kosta Barbarouses – himself a former Phoenix player.
Though Merrick was coy on who exactly he has his eye on to boost his Phoenix squad in Season 16/17, he said quality strikers were high up on his list.
“There are some exciting players we’re looking at and talking to.
“You’re not allowed to ask me about any signings I’ll make… I’ll let you know as soon as it’s all done and dusted.
“Through this period we’ve had injuries and suspensions it’s great to see some of our youngsters have a run, like Dylan Fox, Ridenton, James McGarry, Joel Stevens coming through.
“But we do need to add a couple of quality players in the pointy end of our team and I’ll let you know as they’re signed off on.”
Phoenix has an immediate four-year extension of its licence through to the end of the 2019/20 Hyundai A-League with two further three-year extensions through to 2022/23 and then 2025/26.
These are dependent on a number of factors, especially improved broadcast rights from New Zealand.
“I think we were all pretty confident that we would be a part of the A-League going forward,” added Merrick.
“What was really terrific was the support of not only our own fans but opposition fans – in fact there was someone over at a Stuttgaart match had a Save the Nix sign up.”
The New Zealand FA were also naturally delighted at the news.
New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin said: “The Phoenix form a key part of the football landscape in New Zealand and we’re naturally delighted they have secured a licence extension.
“Their on-going presence provides an absolutely vital link from this country’s immensely talented and rapidly-developing youth bracket into the professional and international arena.”