Sydney FC welcome FFA’s extension of Wellington Phoenix A-League licence

Sydney FC’s chairman praised the FFA’s decision to retain Wellington Phoenix in the A-League and withdraw their immediate interest in establishing a team in Sydney’s southern suburbs.

As revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday, Wellington and the FFA are set to announce a minimum four-year licence extension in the A-League, which could be formally concluded as early as next week.

The two parties negotiated a deal that could amount to a total of 10 years, pending the club’s commercial performance in a heavily incentivised structure.

While yet to be finalised, Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow welcomed the deal that’s set to keep the Phoenix in the competition for the medium to long term as well as delay the introduction of a team in their core supporter base.

The St George, Sutherland and Wollongong regions account for approximately 25 per cent of the Sky Blues membership in what is the largest area of season ticket holders.

“My understanding is that a deal is yet to be reached between the FFA and Wellington but I’d certainly welcome a deal that saw Wellington remain in the competition long term,” Barlow said.

“They’re a very well run club financially, they’re secure and they add a lot to the A-League and I know the other club chairmen share that view.

“From a South Sydney perspective, the region continues to be a vital and important one for Sydney FC and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that remains the case long into the future.”

The FFA are understood to be eager to introduce an A-League club in Sydney’s south which boasts the largest number of registered football players in the country.

That won’t likely occur for up to four years and pending the next broadcast deal. Stakeholders in the St George, Sutherland and Wollongong region may have been disappointed not to have been granted an A-League licence for next season but remain on-call for a future bid.

The local councils and football associations united to form a grassroots support base for an A-League club and said they will continue to support a team even if it won’t likely enter the competition for up to four more seasons.

“We will continue to work with them to be part of the whole of football plan. I think it’s a viable opportunity for the FFA to consider but that’s the FFA’s decision, they know their competition and what’s affordable. We would be happy to help build a club from the grass roots level and up,” Sutherland Shire FA general manager Jeff Stewart said.

The Phoenix came under criticism from many fans demanding to know the status of their licence application. Through a post on their Facebook page, Wellington Phoenix said a deal was yet to be finalised and ruled out publicly discussing licence talks.

“The negotiations for a license extension are continuing but the Wellington Phoenix have not and will not conduct these negotiations via the media,” the post read.

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