Arena writes off debt

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 11:19 20/06/2012

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Arena Manawatu have had to write off $5160 they were owed by the Wellington Phoenix football club.

The debt dates back to December 2009 when the Phoenix played their first A League game outside Wellington, against Sydney FC.

Palmerston North City Council, which owns Arena Manawatu, was asked through its finance and performance committee to write off the "uncollectible" balance.

The Phoenix are now under new ownership and not responsible for the previous owner's debts.

Council documents recorded: "This entity, being the previous Wellington team, has ceased trading, with the owner having no ability to pay this amount."

Arena manager David Walsh said the $5160 was for catering charges for private boxes which came in later than other costs. Contract caterers are used at FMG Stadium.

"We were trying to recoup it from day one," Walsh said. He said he went to Wellington to see then-Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos, who did not have his chequebook with him at the time but promised to send a cheque.

It did not materialise.

"We struggled. It was a very small amount from the total amount of the game.

"We didn't lose money on the event. We still made a surplus."

It's just that the money had to be deducted from the takings for the match.

It would not put Walsh off hosting another Phoenix game. He said everything else worked well, the teams stayed in Palmerston North hotels and were involved in promotional activities which did not have a dollar value.

After that match, the Phoenix took their home-away-from-home matches out of Wellington to Christchurch for the next two years, until the Canterbury earthquake intervened.

The Palmerston North match was played in strong swirling gusts that wreaked havoc with throw-ins, passes and shots, in front of a crowd of 6494. Sydney FC won 1-0.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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