The Wellington Phoenix are trying to avoid bursting into flames.

by Herbertimo on November 11, 2015

In Greek mythology, a phoenix is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn, by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. In Wellington the Phoenix are the football team that are currently in a bit of potential trouble. According to some sources, a phoenix dies in a show of flames and combustion… one hopes that this is not the fate of the Wellington Phoenix, as it has been for previous New Zealand A-League teams.

You may have noticed that there has been a lot of discussion around the Wellington Phoenix of late. There have been multiple articles in the Dominion Post (even within the same edition of a paper), there have been passionate blog posts, twitter has been bombarded with hashtags (#SavetheNix) and the central city has been festooned with scarves #ScarfWellington.

Photo courtesy of our very own Deputy Mayor Justin Lester

The reason for all the chatter is simple: At the end of this season there may not be a Wellington Phoenix.

The reasons for this have been made out to be more complex than what it really boils down to: Cold Hard Cash.

The facts as they currently stand:

  • the Welnix (owners of the Wellington Phoenix’s licence to play) proposed a 10 year licence, partially to ensure their sponsors and broadcasters are guaranteed long term deals, which was declined by Football Federation Australia (FFA). The reasons the FFA have given for this have varied over the last few weeks, but include:
    • game development, player pathway, commercial factors, broadcast rights and the long-term strategic outlook of the A-League,
    • ‘metrics’ ie crowds, memberships and television ratings, and most recently
    • rebranding to become the New Zealand Phoenix.
  • the FFA countered with an offer of a 4 year licence and discussions are continuing between FFA and WelNix

Some interesting side notes:

  • every other A-League club has a 20 year licence (expiring 2034).
  • FFA are currently running ie paying for another team in the A-League, in the hopes of selling it/the licence to someone else – they had buyers lined up but they recently fell through
  • Another club is in a similar position to the one FFA are running (they are struggling to pay their players)
  • the FFA brokered the broadcast deal with Sky Sport and now the Welnix are tasked with working out a better deal

All of this has been pretty messy, with mixed messages coming out and very little clarity given to fans meaning emotions of  Phoenix fans are running high.

The Yellow Fever, the vocal Phoenix fan club willing to remove their shirts if the Phoenix are winning at the end of a game, have even set up a fantastic Givealittle campaign which aims to “give Wellington Phoenix season passes to charitable organisations to use to say thanks to their volunteers.” They’ve raised over $11,000 to spend on memberships for organisations including the SPCA, Neonatal Trust, Ronald McDonald House and Te Omanga Hospice.

Support for the Phoenix has come from fans AND coaches AND owners of other teams as well. In typical New Zealand fashion ‘we’ can jump up and down and say “They like us! They really like us!” not that people liking us will grant the us a 10 year licence. Only money will do that.

What the Wellington Phoenix really need is Wellingtonians to like them, and watch them on TV and come and see them play at Westpac Stadium!

You can buy tickets to this Friday’s (Nov 13th) game here, the most expensive adult tickets are $29, the cheapest are $10 AND all children’s tickets are only $2! AND THERE’S GARAGE PROJECT BEER TO DRINK AT THE STADIUM!! If you can’t make it on Friday the next game at Westpac is Saturday, December 19

You can donate to the Givealittle campaign if watching football isn’t your thing but you want to do a good deed.

You can buy a membership, and there are lots of options!

  • Season Ticket Membership – Tickets to all home games, including the games in Auckland & Christchurch
  • Nix Six Flexi Pass – vouchers for six tickets to be used at any Westpac game or games!
  • Club Memberships (with or without a ticket to the game) – if you like the Phoenix but can’t attend games
  • even Toddler & Baby Memberships – for your “future All White” offspring because obviously if you watch football you’ll become a star.

The team at the dedicated Wellington Phoenix hotline are really helpful, so if you’re considering a membership, give them a call – (04) 384 2457.

Photo courtesy of twitter user @AjSheterline

Declaration: I held a Phoenix Season Membership for 4 years but don’t have one at the moment. This is all my fault. Please help me #SaveTheNix


Dan November 11, 2015 at 4:19 pm

The question is Tim, why are you no longer a member after being one for 4 years. Perhaps the answer as to why people aren’t following the Phoenix closely lies with that answer right there.

Playing out of an oval stadium is shocking and does nothing to create any real atmosphere at games. The bright yellow seats doesn’t help either as it clearly points out how many empty seats there are. People will then complain the weather too, but really the game is being played during the summer months so that can’t be a good reason either.

Herbertimo November 12, 2015 at 11:54 am

The single reason I stopped my membership was because the four or five guys I attended all of the games with headed overseas at the same time and I had no friends to convince a season membership was worthwhile. I attended random games with different friends but none would commit to a membership.
I think the Yellow Fever do a pretty darn good job creating atmosphere and sure, a rectangle stadium would be lovely but Wellington doesn’t currently have one that works for the Nix.
It doesn’t matter what colour a seat is if there’s a bum on it!

Nicola November 11, 2015 at 10:37 pm

There’s Garage Project Beer at the stadium? Is this new? Have I been looking in the wrong place?

(I have a season membership, coming up on six years of support now – people will use 100 excuses, but the atmosphere is fantastic. It makes up for the bad day games, and gets better the more people we have there!)

Herbertimo November 12, 2015 at 11:47 am
Dan November 12, 2015 at 1:31 pm

Let’s see how they go getting fans through the gates for the rest of the season. I’m predicting a huge crowd this Friday, but they need to sustain it to around 10k for each game the rest of the season. No point rallying behind the club for one match (as will no doubt happen here) and then return back to sub par 6k-7k attendances.

I guess the other more important metric is the viewership figures. That needs a big boost.

One thing that I truly don’t understand is how Sky NZ feel it’s ok to pay NRL 15 million a year and only pay the FFA 200k.

From my understanding only the Warriors and the State of Origin are broadcast live in NZ, the rest of the matches are available but not broadcast live.

So in essence you have roughly the same number of games being broadcast live as the Phoenix per season but are paying a whopping 75 times more for. Now if the Phoenix normally rate at 20-30k per match, to fit inline with pricing model used for the Warriors, the warriors would need to be rating 1.8 million per match!! (25k x 75).

Now even if you take into account state of origin and the fact that there are greater advertising opportunities in league matches, there’s no way that the pricing formula is equal. So SKY is either paying HUGE overs for NRL rights, or they are massively underpaying the A-league.

Herbertimo November 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Re getting people back – There’s a whole month between games (Dec 19th is the next game at the stadium), which may actually work in our favour as it will give a good stretch between and people won’t feel ‘meh I went last week’

According to a number of very recent interviews with Rob Morrison (eg the Phoenix are looking at all sorts of broadcasting options in an effort to get the best deal $ wise and increase viewership. Big task, and interesting that the Welnix are doing this and not FFA but great to see them attempting to make something happen.

Matt November 26, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Sadly ain’t nothing can be done about this situation. The problem as I understand it, is that NZers just don’t watch the A-League. Primarily because, in my opinion, its pretty ordinary, but also they just don’t have any affinity for the other Aussie teams. This is unlike the NRL where there has been support for NRL clubs in NZ for decades and why SKY is willing to pay for it as NZ does appear to watch it, even if the Warriors aren’t playing. And I believe SKY plays almost all the NRL games along with the NRL magazine shows, such as the Footy Show which is very high rating. If A-League has anything like that, we don’t get it here, or its not watched anyway.
So until NZ starts watching A-league in greater numbers, SKY will only pay the minimum for it. If the Phoenix want to keep the Phoenix alive, they need to stop selling the Phoenix to Wellingtonians and start selling the A-League to NZ.

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