Wellington could soon have a second professional football club as the W-League in Australia announced its expansion plans.
The W-League will expand to 10 teams this season ahead of further growth to 12 clubs in the 2022-23 campaign.
The competition's most recent expansion was in 2015 when it increased to nine teams with the addition of Melbourne City.
One of the four A-League clubs currently without a W-League presence – Wellington Phoenix, Western United, Central Coast Mariners and Macarthur FC – will next week be announced as the W-League's 10th team for the season scheduled to start on November 12.
Two of the remaining three clubs will join the women's competition in the following season.
The Phoenix confirmed it was one of three clubs in consideration for entry ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2023.
Phoenix general manager David Dome welcomed the initiative and said he is looking forward to adding a professional women's football team to Wellington in due course.
"While there is no finalised timeframe in place, Wellington welcomes APL's announcement and the consideration to add Wellington to the W-league before 2023," says Dome.
"We will continue to work with all major stakeholders to gain entrance as soon as possible but note there is still work to do before our entry can be confirmed."
This season's finals will again involve four teams, but the format will change to become a traditional top-four series to include major and knockout semifinals, as well as a preliminary final before the grand final.
"It will add more importance to where teams finish on the ladder," Australian Professional Leagues managing director Danny Townsend said.
The A-League and W-League will also further align from this season with the formation of a club championship that will combine the results of teams from the same club in the men's and women's competitions.
"It's about starting the process of looking to bring the value of three points in the W-League up to the same level as three points in the A-League," Townsend said.
"It will also ensure that we acknowledge the best club in Australian professional football, not just the best male team or the best female team.
"We want club fans to support clubs, not just teams within those clubs. We want to ensure that the fans that love the A-League will show the same level of passion for the W-League, and vice versa.
"The best way to do that is silverware. Fans just love winning trophies."
The club championship won't include Canberra United, who only have a W-League team, and the A-League clubs that don't have W-League teams.