• Christian Marchetti

The FFA's agenda against the Wellington Phoenix is getting old

On Tuesday, Football Federation Australia blocked a change in league regulations which has prevented the Wellington Phoenix from unveiling a professional women's team.


Unlike the men's team, the proposed W-League team would still need to abide by the five foreigner policy in their squad.


As New Zealand footballers are therefore considered foreigners, they would not be allowed to have any more than five Kiwis in their squad.


Therefore, this makes it near impossible to form an appropriate team.


However, Wellington does not have to abide by these rules in the A-League, and they can give opportunities to home-grown talent and achieve a sense of ownership within their club.


So the question begs, what grudge are the FFA holding against the Phoenix now?


It might be a separate issue of sexism as to why the W-League team is not allowed to follow a more appropriate set of regulations and the A-League team is.


However, this is also another example of the FFA's consistent agenda against the Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand football.


Firstly, is there a problem with the FFA treating the Nix differently to the other Australian clubs?


As an Australian football organisation, the interests of Australian football clubs should be paramount, but does that mean the Phoenix have to suffer consistently?


Let's cast our minds back to 2015, where former FFA CEO David Gallop accused the club of "squatting" on an A-League license, and essentially provided the injunction of 'improve or bust' to the club.


Not only was that claim bizarre because Wellington had just finished fourth in the 2014-15 A-League season, but I don't see other clubs being held to that same standard.


The Newcastle Jets have only made the finals twice in the last eleven seasons, whilst the Central Coast Mariners have not made the finals since the 2013-14 season.


I would imagine the reason why Wellington is held to a higher standard is because of their off-field metrics.


The main issue with the Nix is that crowd numbers have never really taken off.

Photosport


But should that result in a threat to revoke a license?


No, and if the FFA were fair than Gallop would have threatened the Mariners and Jets as well.


Scratch that, he would have threatened every club in the league as crowd numbers have been consistently dropping each season.


Another issue which has never really been discussed is that Wellington still does not have an AFC license and cannot participate in the illustrious competition.


The Nix finished third in the 2019-20 season and thus should be playing in the AFC Champions League in 2021.


The club cannot acquire a license because they are based in a nation that is not a part of the AFC.


However, I don't see the FFA negotiating a change in the regulations for the Phoenix with the AFC.


This reluctance is no different to how they are unwilling to compromise and change the regulations to allow Wellington to field a W-League team.


The FFA has also never shown a real interest in expansion clubs in New Zealand either.


Auckland City is an established football club in New Zealand who consistently participate in the FIFA Club World Cup.


Yet, they have never been considered as a potential expansion option.


Another team from New Zealand would not only help increase interest in the sport across the ditch but also unlock a new fanbase from Auckland.


There is the expansion rubber-stamp of a derby with Wellington too.


I'm not arguing that the FFA should go out of their way to compensate Wellington and New Zealand's influence in the A-League.


However, the way they have handled issues with the club previously suggest that they do not want them in the league.


It is unfair on the staff running the club and the fanbase that has followed them since their inception in the competition.