FFA chairman Frank Lowy has stepped into the Wellington Phoenix saga, saying the New Zealand club has four years to demonstrate they are an asset, not a liability to the A-League.
In a strong statement, which FFA said was issued in response to “ill-informed and inaccurate” commentary about the A-League’s future, Lowy said all club owners had been told of the governing body’s long-term strategy regarding the Phoenix back in April.
This contradicts claims that FFA rejected Wellington’s application for a 10-year licence extension without informing the other A-League clubs.
Lowy also fired a broadside at Sydney FC chairman Scott Barlow for making an “emotive public issue” of discussions about a new A-League team based in southern Sydney, which could replace the Phoenix as early as next season.
“As is stands, Phoenix has four years to demonstrate that they are an asset to the competition and not a liability instead of simply asking for a 10-year extension to their licence,” said Lowy. “Ultimately, if Phoenix is not part of the A-League then FFA is obliged to explore options to maintain a 10-club competition.
“Clearly, a new team in south Sydney is one of those options. Discussions have also taken place about the potential for a new team in Wollongong. Even a new team in Victoria, Canberra or Queensland can’t be completely ruled out at this stage.”