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Wellington's place in the A-League beyond 2011 looks safe after Fifa president Sepp Blatter put Asian chairman Mohamed Bin Hammam in his place over comments about kicking the Phoenix out of the competition.

Bin Hammam caused a stir on both sides of the Tasman recently when he said all A-League clubs would have to be Australian from 2011, when the Phoenix's current licence runs out.

But Blatter refuted this, saying Fifa would give Wellington their "blessing" to continue being part of the league if all parties wanted them to remain involved.

"When teams from one association will play in another association['s competition], it's not a matter of the confederations, it's a matter of the Fifa executive committee... to decide if it's possible or not," Blatter said on Australia's SBS television. "Therefore, this problem cannot be an Asian problem.

"It is a problem which has to go to Fifa and... as long as the Australian league want to have them and Wellington also go there and both associations - in this case New Zealand Football and Australian Football - are happy with it, then we will give them our blessing. But the Asian confederation cannot interfere."

Blatter's remarks were welcomed by Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata.

"I love the guy," he said. "We still need to speak to the FFA about the matter but it's nice to hear Blatter's comments, which will help us. We want the matter cleared up sooner rather than later and we want the same rights as other A-League clubs."

This means being granted a six-year extension to their existing licence, which has one year left to run, as well as gaining entry to the Asian Champions League.

The Phoenix are currently banned from playing in this competition, even if they win the A-League, and are also unable to play in Oceania's O-League.

Pignata and owner Terry Serepisos hope to meet FFA chief executive Ben Buckley when the Phoenix travel to play Sydney FC next weekend to discuss a raft of issues.

Hammam's comments came out of the blue, especially as Pignata had sought clarification earlier this year from Fifa about their status. Fifa said at the time they regarded them as an Australian club, given their players were registered with the FFA.

Wellington's possible expulsion from the A-League would have seen New Zealand without a professional side for the first time since the Football Kingz were established in 1999.

"It's serious when the president of the confederation made the sort of comments he did and I took them seriously," Pignata said. "From our point of view, we still want the Asian Football Confederation to accept us. I believe we do a lot for the A-League.
"If there was no New Zealand team participating in the A-League, it would be a real setback for the game in New Zealand, which I believe is on the cusp of big things, with the All Whites on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup and also playing at the Confederations Cup. And New Zealand isn't big enough to have its own professional competition."