The Wellington Phoenix are here to stay, with an A-League future that will stretch beyond the next few years.

That's the assurance from Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison, who added the franchise is still open to partnering with another club, if beneficial to both. And he also dismissed any suggestions the club was considering relocating to the Hutt Recreation ground.

Though he keeps a low public profile, Morrison's views carry weight. He is the dominant figure within the Welnix owners' group, and is respected for his business acumen across the Tasman.

That is reflected by his presence on the taskforce mapping the A-League's future, where the clubs, rather than Football Federation Australia, will run the competition.


The fact Morrison sees a future beyond the end of next season, when the club's A-League licence expires, should be a relief for Phoenix fans and the New Zealand football fraternity.

Not so long ago, the Phoenix seemed doomed, struggling on the field and unable to meet the FFA's metrics off it. At the end of a difficult last season, even the club's biggest supporters were straining to be optimistic about the future.

But this season's upsurge in form, inspired by new coach Mark Rudan, gives reasons for hope. Broadcast ratings and crowds are up — there should be close to 20,000 at Eden Park for the clash with Melbourne Victory on Friday, reflecting the increased interest in the team.

Of even more long-term importance is the potential new ownership structure of the A-League.

"I'm very confident," Morrison told the Herald on Sunday when asked about the possibility of the Phoenix existing into the next decade. "But I have always been confident. We have got fantastic backing from the other clubs and I don't see any reason why anything is going to change there. We have to grow ourselves and prove we should be in there, but I'm quite confident."

It helps Morrison is one of five club chairman on the New Leagues working group, set up to plan, along with the other football stakeholders across the Tasman, the future look of the competition.

We are open to get some other investors in long-term, and if it was another club, that would be ideal.

"I have been put forward by the other A-League clubs and I'm there to do a job which is in the best interests of the league and Australian football," said Morrison. "If the Nix are benefiting out of that, that's great, but my focus has to be on what is best for everyone."

In terms of the future, Morrison doesn't rule out a partnership with another club, a controversial idea first mooted last year.

"We have continued to be open about the fact that long-term, if we can find alliances with other clubs, we would look at that. We think it would be good for us ... if someone wants to partner with us. As with all the A-League clubs, there have been approaches to buy the club.''


Morrison emphasises the idea of linking with an Australian club, as was briefly discussed last year, isn't on the agenda. Instead, any partnership would be with a club in Europe, Asia or North America, as they look to broaden their base and become more sustainable, given the Welnix group have ploughed considerable resources into the club since 2011.

Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison. Photo / Justin Arthur /
Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison. Photo / Justin Arthur /

"We are open to get some other investors in long-term, and if it was another club, that would be ideal.

It's not like we are calling up people every day. We get approaches, we look at it. If we found someone who was like-minded, wanted to grow the club, could add to us from an international point of view, coaching exchanges, the growth of the academy ... we would be interested."

Morrison dismissed the notion initially made in a story this week of moving to the Hutt Rec ground. "They just made it up," laughed Morrison. "How can you have any credibility when you start making that stuff up?

"It was an experiment that worked really well," said Morrison of the three games the club played at the ground in 2015 when Westpac Stadium was unavailable due to the Cricket World Cup.

"We haven't been back to the Hutt, we haven't had any substantial discussions with them. We stay in touch with them, but there is nothing on the table at the moment, but it is something we would certainly think about revisiting because it worked so well last time."

Morrison is more focused on retaining Rudan, who has already been linked with other A-League clubs following his deeds in the capital.

"The reality in football, the more successful you are, the more people take notice,"

said Morrison. "We are always open to the fact that there will be people that want to try and grab him. We need to persuade him the Nix is a good place to continue to grow. At some stage in his career, he will say 'I want to go on to bigger things' and we will absolutely understand that. But the longer we can keep him, the better for the Phoenix."

Morrison is confident the Australian will be around next season.

"He's on a two-year contract," said Morrison. "A contract's a contract. I'm not going to negotiate something in public but I have complete faith in him. We want to show him, as we do any of our staff or players, there is still growth and upside in the club and it's exciting to be part of that."