Wellington Phoenix aiming for W-League team next season
The Wellington Phoenix are pushing for a women's W-League team next season.
The move was first mooted a few years ago, but progress has been slow due to a lot of moving parts and approval from many different entities.
The aim would appear to be to incorporate New Zealand Football and the Football Ferns' development programme in a combined initiative, but that faces a lot of hurdles to get through before it can happen, such as where the team would be based and what players would be available.
There was also talk of developing an association with an established W-League team, most likely Canberra United, but how feasible that would be remains to be seen.
What can be said is the Phoenix are very interested in getting something across the line, with general manager David Dome hopeful it will happen sooner rather than later.
"We're keen to have one next season. Whether we can pull it round in quite that time we don't know.
"We're working hard on it and it has to be a collaborative effort with New Zealand Football and there is still stuff to work through there.
"It's crunchy stuff, it's not easy to pull these things off and there is a lot of work that has to be done there and some goodwill from a number of parties to pull it off, but the intent is good.
"If we can get it done for the next W-League season that would be fantastic, it might take a little bit longer, but everyone is pushing for it to get done this year."
The W-League currently has teams representing eight Hyundai A-League teams and Canberra United, so the Phoenix making it an even 10 would make sense.
But there have been moves from South Melbourne and the consortium behind the Southern Sydney A-League bid to take that 10th spot, so the Phoenix would have a fight on their hands to get into the league next season.
Then there is Football Federation Australia's decision to push back the expansion blueprint for the A-League and W-League. That was originally slated for release in February, but was delayed due to FFA having to reform their governance structure at the due to Fifa rules. When it will be completed is not yet known and the longer it takes, the less likely expansion will happen in the women's game.
Still, the Phoenix's initiative of at least exploring the idea of a W-League team is a good one, which Dome said showed the way the club was looking to expand their interests outside of the first team.
"The A-League team is just the shop window and we understand it is the top of the pyramid and that's what people look at, but there's a lot of really exciting stuff going on underneath, including working on a W-League side in the women's competition too."