Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has launched a blistering attack on the state of football in New Zealand, saying that feuding between top administrators and lack of investment is holding the sport back.

Rudan says that needs to change — and quickly — for the game to progress, and hopes a "godfather" type figure will emerge to drive the changes that are required.

The Australian's outburst came in the wake of the Phoenix's 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory at Eden Park on Friday night, played in front of a bumper crowd of 23,648, a record attendance for a Phoenix non-finals match.

While disappointed with the performance of his team, whom he rated at only "70 per cent", Rudan was thrilled by the fan turnout and the occasion that was created.


But a question about the overall direction of the sport here seemed to touch a nerve, as the 43-year-old went on the offensive.

After lamenting the amount of negativity and cynicism that can exist in football circles, Rudan then took aim at the administrators — and didn't miss.

His frustration centred on the lack of foresight of those charged with running the sport, as well as the often fractured relationship between key stakeholders in this country, specifically the Wellington Phoenix and New Zealand Football.

"The people up top have to get their house in order," said Rudan. "That's got to change. And the sooner, the better. I don't know how that is going to happen but I have asked for a meeting with those guys, to try and bring the two together."

Wellington Phoenix's coach Mark Rudan celebrates the win during the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 game between Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Wellington Phoenix's coach Mark Rudan celebrates the win during the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 game between Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

"The only professional football club and the federation [need to] forget about all these scenarios where everyone is worried about themselves. Worry about the game. The game is the most important thing, at the forefront of everything. Until people start taking away their selfishness and understanding that it is about the game and how do we move the game forward, only then will you start to really reach greater heights."

The Phoenix and the NZF have often had a strange, strained relationship. It reached it's nadir during the Andy Martin era, as the former CEO never seemed to truly understand the importance of the Phoenix to the sport here, and incidents like the Alex Jones transfer fiasco did a lot of damage.

Things have progressed in the last six months, but there is still a way to go.

Rudan always wears his heart on his sleeve, and was clearly tired and emotional, off the back of a demanding schedule of games as well as the constant questions about his future. His tirade may also have been an attempt to deflect some focus from his team, who, while still on track for the playoffs, have won just one of their last five matches.

But Rudan also appears to have seen enough, across nine months in this country, to know that things can be a whole lot better.

"I don't speak to the federation or the people at the federation — there are a couple of people I have spoken to — but they know where they stand," said Rudan. "The people that preside [over] that organization need to really think about the game, and the players. There are some damn good footballers, not just playing in this country but overseas as well, who deserve a lot better."

According to Rudan, the sport needs a visionary to flick the switch, both fiscally and in a football sense.

"Someone in this country has an opportunity to be a flag bearer, or to be the godfather of football," said Rudan. "You need investment. It's no different to Australia. We certainly as a football club have a vision, I certainly do, about the game going forward, and if we can work together, who knows how far the game can go here? But someone has to take the bull by the horns and say 'I am going to do this'.

"Who wants to step up? I don't know. But there are some good people here that want to improve the game. Damn good people and the game deserves to be improved in this country."