Forget the pot shots, the Wellington club need to fight to keep alive — but that doesn’t include a terminal Australian merger, writes Michael Burgess.

If you needed more evidence that the Wellington Phoenix owners are living in a parallel universe to the rest of us, it came with yesterday's press release.

The club continue to be frustrated and disappointed with the speculation around their possible sale or merger, and the media is again to blame.

They also tried to deflect some of the spotlight on the flailing club, with a few well-placed shots at the FFA and the current set-up and operation of the A-League.

Some of the points were valid and the A-League has a number of well-documented issues.


An English Premier League situation, where the clubs run the competition, can't come soon enough.

We are also witnessing some of the latent frustration with the way the Phoenix have been treated over the years by the FFA, which is also justified.

But now is not the time. The Phoenix are entering their last chance saloon, with their existence in doubt, and a rescue operation requires focus and clear thinking, not random pot shots.

Here, since there still seems to be some misunderstanding down in the Windy City, is the real issue.

The Phoenix owners have discussed sale and merger options with Australian clubs. That is a fact.

In most other football-loving countries, there would be riots outside the club's headquarters if such a thing was being discussed.

The issue is even more pronounced here because the Phoenix are New Zealand's only professional football team.

That's the issue. The Phoenix can't expect everyone to ignore their dealing behind the scenes.


Merger would mean death. There is no realistic way you can have a club existing in two countries thousands of kilometres apart, and sooner or later, it would become permanent in Australia.

The only merger the Phoenix should be looking at is with Auckland City, or another Auckland based operation, if there was the cash. That might work, with a few more games in the Queen City — nothing else will.

Otherwise the Phoenix need to look at how they can salvage their next two years. It's not impossible.

The right coach — and they haven't had one with experience or ability since Ernie Merrick left — and some decent signings, and things could turn around on the field.

If they started winning, as has been seen with the Warriors, everything else starts to flow. Crowds return, sponsors come knocking and television figures increase.

But the Phoenix don't seem to be making much headway with the coaching situation.

They have also considered — seriously — handing control of their team to Fritz Schmid and Des Buckingham, which would be a bizarre move.

There are hundreds, maybe thousands of good coaches around the world, and the Phoenix just need to find the right one. And that man doesn't necessarily need to have A-League experience.

Although that has been seen as the main reason for Darije Kalezic's spectacular failure, it wasn't. He was just a poor coach, as his CV indicated even before he was appointed.

All is not yet lost for the Phoenix but they need to re-enter the real world to have any chance of salvaging this situation.