October 28, 2014
As we all know, the summer of 2014-15 is a big one for Australian football.
This season is the 10th for the A-League, the Western Sydney Wanderers are involved in the ACL final and Australia is hosting the Asian Cup is in January.
This season may also be a defining one for New Zealand football, and in particular the Wellington Phoenix.
After three rounds thus far, they have produced two wins and one loss. However, off the field, there is an elephant in the room that is lurking for the Phoenix.
The sticky issue revolves around Wellington’s licence renewal in the A-League. Earlier this year, the FFA renewed the licences of the other nine A-League clubs up until 2034. Wellington meanwhile have a licence that expires in 2016.
Australia and the A-League are part of the Asian Football Confederation. While New Zealand and Wellington are still in Oceania. AFC officials in the past have expressed a level of discomfort in having a team from another confederation involved in a league from Asia.
New Zealand Football Federation and Wellington Phoenix know this full well. If New Zealand want a second or maybe a third team in the A-League down the track, wouldn’t be wise if they moved to Asia?
It will be a huge benefit for New Zealand football and it will make life a little easier for the FFA. Been stuck in Oceania is not a future. If anything, the Oceania Confederation should be disbanded or merged with Asia.
We could be looking at five World Cup Asian spots rather then the current four and a half.
To make matters worse for the Phoenix, the A-League TV rights from New Zealand Sky TV is only $200,000 a season. And that was recently increased from $110,000 per year.
You would’ve thought that bringing a New Zealand team into the A-League would harness millions in TV revenue per year, not thousands. Compare that with Sky TV paying $17.8 million a year for the NRL.
Phoenix are owned by a consortium of seven Wellington businessmen, headed by Rob Morrison and Gareth Morgan.
Reading online elsewhere, there was a suggestion from a football fan that Wellington’s wealthy owners should buy the TV rights and on-sell it to the highest bidder on free-to-air. Let’s be frank, $200,000 a season is pretty paltry.
Many A-League fans over the years have questioned Wellington’s admission in the A-League.
The main concern for the Phoenix is why should Australia continue to help New Zealand football. If anything, helping New Zealand could come back to bite Australia, especially if one day New Zealand knocks out Australia in World Cup qualifying.
But the positives in having a New Zealand side in the A-League is that we get to see many New Zealand footballers ply their trade either at the Phoenix or other A-League clubs. Players like Shane Smeltz and Marco Rojas have made a positive impact in the competition.
Alas, having Wellington in the A-League has denied other areas of Australia that don’t have an A-League team. Places like North Queensland, Canberra, Wollongong and Tasmania.
Having said that, folding A-League clubs is not a good look.
If Wellington are granted a renewed licence then they need to start offering something back to the A-League. They can’t afford to be a club that regularly misses out on finals, have average crowds of around 7000 and offer very little in TV revenue.
Their licence renewal needs to be sorted by the end of this season. The FFA shouldn’t wait until 2016. The A-League does need a degree of certainty in place.
Wellington Phoenix need to give something back. Otherwise, it’s not Australia’s responsibility to help New Zealand football.