Phoenix could still float

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 01/02/2014

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Phoenix

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Wellington Phoenix owners want to offer fans a financial stake in the club, but it must first starting turning a profit.

The idea of public funding for the football club was initially floated when the Wellington-based consortium Welnix assumed control of the Phoenix in 2011.

Club co-owner Gareth Morgan said it was still on the cards.

"I like that model but we've got to get the thing washing its face [making money].

"There is no way you'd want to sell the fans a pup," he said.

"If we can get the [club] a bit more robust and sustaining then I think the idea of a public fan shareholding is fine.

"It would be great."

The eight members of Welnix collectively pumped about $3 million of their own money into the Phoenix during their first two seasons in charge.

Dr Morgan expects losses to be below $1 million in this season. Phoenix profitability mostly came down to getting more people through the turnstiles, he said. "If we could get a steady 10,000 people as our base attendance, then event day revenue would be pulling its weight."

Dr Morgan said the stadium charged a fixed cost and that had to be met through ticket sales. Poor crowds meant little or no money went to the Phoenix.

"Event day for us doesn't make any [financial] contribution, or bugger all."

The Welnix strategy to boost attendances was getting the team to play an entertaining brand of winning football.

And the team are on the way after its 5-0 demolition of Melbourne Victory in Wellington a couple of weeks ago. Despite the strong performance, the game drew a crowd of just 6036.

Phoenix general manager David Dome said the team had played eight home games this season, including one in Napier and Christchurch.

"The two games that have made money were the games in Napier and Christchurch. Auckland [the Phoenix play Adelaide United today at Eden Park] will also make money."

The Football Federation Australia (FFA) granted Welnix a five-year licence to operate the Phoenix. It expires at the end of the 2015/16 season.

Dr Morgan said issuing longer licences was a hot topic being discussed between A-League clubs and the FFA. He believed new licence terms would be for 10-years.

"Unless they can give us longer terms, it is very difficult justifying investing. You might invest and then [five years later] lose your licence. Investors in these clubs need more security."

He was unsure whether his Welnix partners would go for a 10-year deal when the Phoenix licence is up for renewal.

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- The Dominion Post

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