Phoenix reserve team to play in national league
New Zealand Football has confirmed the inclusion of a Wellington Phoenix reserve team in the 2014-15 national league.
Other features of the now nine-team league are a rule requiring 50 percent of match-day squads to be players eligible to play for the All Whites while bids from Auckland United, Nelson Marlborough Falcons and YoungHeart Manawatu were all rejected.
"The addition of the Wellington Phoenix team strengthens both the A-League franchise and the overall quality of our national competition which is very important," said NZF chief executive Andy Martin.
"It is the responsibility of New Zealand Football to ensure we have a structure in place which provides the best possible chance for our sole professional club to thrive and develop.
"The Wellington Phoenix is obviously a key part of the landscape in terms of building the strongest possible All Whites side and their entry into the ASB Premiership is vital for not only their own structure, but the overall strength of a product which will ultimately benefit the entire game in New Zealand."
Wellington Phoenix general manager David Dome said the reserve team would have an emphasis on youth.
'"Having a team in the ASB Premiership is crucial to this development pathway,'' Dome said.
"This structure will add greatly in building a club which will compete every year for the A-League title.
It's an exciting time for us and we can't wait to take the field in the 2014-15 ASB Premiership competition.
"The competition kicks off on October 25.
NZF high performance director Fred de Jong said the 50 per cent rule was an approach designed to follow in the footsteps of World Cup-winners Germany, whose ability to nurture young, home-grown talent in the Bundesliga has been a key factor in their success.
Conversely England - whose Premier League is packed with foreigners - have struggled at the top international tournaments in recent times.
"While the scale of our situation is different to the likes of Germany or England, there are certainly parallels and lessons to be learned from their relative experiences in recent times,'' de Jong said.
"In ratio terms, Germany's domestic competition is filled in the majority by domestic players and that has played a role in their on-going development of individuals and the national teams.
"We think, in the long-term, adopting a similar approach in the scale of our own environment will enable us to produce better results."