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

Luke Roar Pro

By Luke, Luke is a Roar Pro

 , , ,

52 Have your say

    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.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (52)

    • July 13th 2017 @ 6:56am
      R2k said | July 13th 2017 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      Hi Luke – yes I’d like to save the endangered Phoenix. Would I prefer the Phoenix to a potential Gold Coast or North Queensland debacle? Yes. Would I prefer that players like Vukovic, Burns and Durante disappear into the ether? Not overly. Am I happy that clubs got to benefit from players like Moss, Rojas and Barbarouses being introduced? Somewhat – I’d prefer other clubs than the victory but hey. Do I really care that they haven’t made an a league or Ffa cup final? If we want to expand the comp more teams won’t have made finals – and they do have to play every Ffa cup game away. Do I really think Geelong or anyone else are going to deeply assist the a-league? Possibly but I’d rather have 10 stable clubs as a base than 9. Are the Phoenix going to pull less numbers to games on tv in Australia? I would hope so they’re a club with a minimal supporter base in this country. Do I care about their membership numbers in comparison to the Victory? Well no considering all clubs bar Sydney, Victory and the Wanderers have generally less than 10k anyway ( – no idea if those numbers are right and that’s more historical anyway – those numbers aren’t great but I’m not going to trust Wikipedia). Do I agree with Mark Bosnich? Sometimes mostly when I’m not overly sober.
      Do I want the Wellington Phoenix to be cut? Not particularly.

      • Roar Pro

        July 13th 2017 @ 9:30am
        Luke said | July 13th 2017 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        I think everyone would prefer the Phoenix over the debacle that was North Queensland and Gold Coast 🙂

    • July 13th 2017 @ 7:06am
      League table speaks said | July 13th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      New Zealand football also needs to ask the question: is our best club team more value to us playing in an Australian or NZ league?

      What ambitions do they have for building up their own competition?

    • July 13th 2017 @ 7:23am
      Swanny said | July 13th 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      The A league should not be cutting any team

      Save the nix

      • Roar Pro

        July 13th 2017 @ 7:58am
        Luke said | July 13th 2017 @ 7:58am | ! Report

        I dont think that cutting the a-league is a good idea either, I just think that we would be better off by replacing the nix. We wouldn’t be lowering the numbers at all. Unless they actually contribute to our national team then we shouldn’t have them in here,

    • Roar Rookie

      July 13th 2017 @ 8:17am
      Grobbelaar said | July 13th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      When the time comes, I’m sure the nix will be replaced, doesn’t really fit with full P&R across three national divisions.

    • July 13th 2017 @ 8:21am
      Buddy said | July 13th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      I contacted the Phoenix in 2015 and made suggestions in relation to garnishing support and donations from Australia as I felt that they were doing something more than existing instead of a 10th Australian side. I was quite happy to donate the equivalent of a season ticket that went to local volunteers or under privileged to try and help get more through the gate. Wellington population is around 400.000 and their local player base I believe is considerably smaller than our regional A League teams. The stadium is excellent as a facility but as stated, along with plenty of others, is way too large for a typical attendance. In a town that breathes Rugby, even their local team struggles to put bums on seats drawing between 8-13,000 typically this season and they are a successful side. In the season that the Phoenix made the semis they drew a couple of very strong crowds so there is potential to rise again. I have yet to see any plan put forward for A League expansion that convinces me that not only is a geographical area crying out for membership of the A League, but that the supporter base would be significantly different to any of the incumbents. That also ignores the talent pool and the attraction of playing in the A League as oppose to other leagues either in Asia or further afield. I would like to see the league expanded but not a swap. Hopefully lessons have been learnt from tinkering on the Gold Coast and North Queensland. However, football is a business and decisions should be made that support a business model, growth and profitability and I realise that my personal support of the Phoenix and desire to see them continue was an emotional response not a level headed business decision but that’s part of being a football fan.

    • Roar Guru

      July 13th 2017 @ 8:36am
      Griffo said | July 13th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

      The ‘nix have always been about the numbers and having powerful friends.

      When New Zealand defeated Bahrain for a 2010 World Cup spot, the pressure from the AFC on FFA to remove Wellington from the A-League became huge. Given Bin Hammam and Blatter’s battle for FIFA presidency, the ‘nix were briefly a pawn in a larger game until Blatter decreed that if the FFA were happy to have them from the OFC, then so be it, leaving the AFC with no immediate come back.

      From then until the licence saga removing the ‘nix was about who they would be replaced with. Going down to nine teams was worse than keeping a mostly functional tenth and not an option.

      FFA had tried to feel out another Sydney team but at the time the call for expansion bids was more than a year away. There was no ready made Wanderers on the bench to sub in at a moments notice.

      Now the FFA indicate there needs to be a new financial model, expansion is seemingly on hold – again – and the FFA have more pressing matters to attend to on governance, of which the ‘nix and their admins and players are handy pawns to have in a different game. If it means the New Zealand based team’s survival is guaranteed from the fallout of the games battle for control in Australia, then they are as Australian as any of the groups want them to be.

      The question now is: are three Australian based A-League expansion teams better than two of those plus the New Zealand oriented team from Wellington?

    , , ,