Kosta Barbarouses: Expanded A-League should include Wellington Phoenix

Kosta Barbarouses: Expanded A-League should include Wellington Phoenix


Melbourne Victory’s Kiwi forward Kosta Barbarouses insists Wellington Phoenix have a future in the A-League as Football Federation Australia (FFA) prepares to shape the near future of the competition. 

The new FFA board is meeting on Wednesday afternoon to consider which of the six bids should be included in part of an expanded A-League as soon as the 2019-20 season, of which two are expected to be named on Thursday morning.

But while new clubs are set to be added to the competition, whether it is next season or the one following, Wellington’s future is still yet to be resolved beyond the next phase of its licence extension.

The Nix were granted a 10-year licence extension, broken up into phases, with that licence due to expire at the close of the 2019-20 season after its first four seasons.

The Phoenix’s future in the competition has long been a point of contention and it was rumoured in May that the club could be on the brink of being sold to a consortium in southwest Sydney.

FFA rejected that move, and the Sydney bid has since gone on to form Macarthur Southwest Sydney, one of the six parties vying for A-League entry alongside Canberra, Southern Expansion, South Melbourne, the Western Melbourne Group and Team 11.

In an interview with dailyfootballshow.com, newly-elected FFA vice chair Heather Reid cast fresh doubt on the Phoenix’s future, saying the governing body still had to consider their place in the competition beyond 2020.

Wellington entered the league in 2007 after the Auckland-based New Zealand Knights were axed, and Barbarouses has had two stints with the club garnering a combined 46 games, now led by Mark Rudan.

The winger insisted there was a future for the club in the A-League, and suggested their situation could be helped by the addition of another club in New Zealand.

“I think Wellington adds a lot to our league. On-field stuff at the end of the day is what counts and I think they’re on the right track to doing that, not for a lack of trying,” he told a media conference.

“They’re trying to do the right things. The support base is there but maybe could be a little bit better.

“There’s potential there, I think. Another team is probably Auckland or Christchurch, they’re the two big ones.

“It has to be done right. It’s been done in Auckland before, not in the right way from what I’ve heard. I was very young then.

“It would be great. I don’t think it takes anything away.

“A lot of Australian players go over to Wellington and do well for themselves and resurrect their careers or get a good start in Wellington so it doesn’t take away Australian players’ opportunities if that’s what people are worried about.”