The A-League season may be over, but the Wellington Phoenix has had its biggest victory yet - the Herald reports:
The Wellington Phoenix has been granted a five-year license extension to play in Australian football's A-League until at least the end of the 2015-2016 season.
Today's announcement by Football Federation Australia ended speculation over the future of the Phoenix, caused by the Asian Football Confederation's apparent reluctance to have a team from the Oceania Confederation continue in the Australian-based league.
The FFA, which governs the 10-team A-League, became a member of the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, while New Zealand remained part of the Oceania Confederation. AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam said in November he could not see an Oceania-based side continuing in the A-League beyond 2011.
The AFC's position apparently softened after a recent meeting between bin Hammam and OFC head Raynald Temarii, leading to the license extension announced Tuesday.
"This is great news," Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said. "We've cleared this hurdle in terms of extending the club's participation in the A-League and we're going to be around for many years to come."
It is indeed fantastic news for Phoenix fans, and for football in general. We struggle to understand how the AFC could have even considered not extending the Nix's licence, given the team's performances this season, and in particular, the crowds they attracted in the run to the finals.
Then again, this is football, and strange things happen in the FIFA-controlled world, as readers of Andrew Jennings' fine publication Foul! will be well aware. New Zealand may be but a bit player in the FIFA world, but the sport has never been in better health in this country. Let's hope that the 'Nix can eventually return a profit to Terry Serepisos, without whom none of this would have happened.