Two years on, do we still want to Save the Nix?

Luke Roar Rookie

By , Luke is a Roar Rookie

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    Let me take you back to 2015, when the Wellington Phoenix were in danger of disbanding.

    The club aggressively campaigned for a new license, calling for Australian and New Zealand football fans to “Save the Nix”. They claimed such a financially stable club should not be kicked out of the A-League.

    In the end, a license was granted, albeit on different terms to the 10-year deal the Nix were asking for. Four years guaranteed, with a further six to be awarded on the basis of financial benefits to the A-League, improved memberships and greater attendances.

    But why bother even giving Wellington a license? The A-League and Australian football would be much better off ditching the Nix and replacing them with another Australian side.

    The role of the A-League is to give opportunities to Australian players, but during the 2016-17 season just five players on the Phoenix roster were Australian. How can we be expected to grow our national team when one club hardly provides Australian players an opportunity?

    Mark Bosnich summed it up perfectly when he said, “There are teams in Australia who are desperate to enter the A-League… at the moment, all we’re doing for this side is basically providing a base for them to develop their New Zealand national team”.

    Surely any one of the potential expansion clubs – South Melbourne, Geelong, or a second team in Adelaide or Brisbane – would contribute far more to the league than the Phoenix. And while I am not a Perth Glory supporter, some of their fans would be more open to having an actual derby as opposed to the mockery that is the ‘Distance Derby’.

    The Nix may have finished the 2016-17 season in 7th place, however for a club that has been in the A-League for 10 years, the Nix have only made the A-League semi-finals twice and have never reached the grand final.

    Perth Glory, Melbourne City, Western Sydney Wanderers and the Phoenix have never won the A-League, however City and the Wanderers have managed to win trophies. Perth also made the FFA Cup final in 2015, yet the Phoenix haven’t even made a final.

    Their memberships and crowd numbers also leave something to be desired.

    The average attendance during the 2015-16 season (during the Save the Nix campaign) was 8042. In comparison, Melbourne Victory had the highest with 23,112 – more than double the Nix.

    In the same season the Nix sold 5062 memberships, well below the leaders Victory. The following season attendances where down to 6211 and memberships plummeted to 4791. Yet the FFA decided to give this club a new license.

    The club does not offer any kind of home atmosphere either, with their stadium too big for their crowd numbers. While other clubs in the A-League also suffer from similar situations, they are able to back it up with good performances in the league (such as Brisbane Roar).

    Matches involving the Phoenix also generally pull lower television audiences than matches with other clubs. The Phoenix have only been given three free-to-air games this season on ONE.

    Two of those games have them pitted against bigger clubs such as Melbourne City and Western Sydney, which speaks volumes about the inability of the Phoenix to draw television crowds. All three are away fixtures for Wellington, too.

    It may be time to cut Wellington Phoenix off.