Phoenix to relocate to NSW for A-L start

A-League club Wellington Phoenix will start the new season from a base in NSW.
A-League club Wellington Phoenix will start the new season from a base in NSW.

Wellington Phoenix will allow players to bring their families and partners with them when they relocate to NSW for the start of the A-League season in a bid to make their Australian base a home away from home.

The Phoenix will move their operations from Wellington to NSW for the second time in as many seasons due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, with Wollongong shaping as a likely base.

Wellington's squad members will assemble in NSW on November 1, when they can begin training as a team ahead of the A-League's December 27 start date.

Phoenix general manager David Dome said the club wanted to set up a training base that felt as normal as possible rather than a hotel-style hub, which would include facilitating moves for families and partners.

"Some of the players will take families with them and we're going to facilitate that ... and some of the players may take partners with them as well," Dome told Newstalk ZB.

"We'll sort it out and we're working with them on a case-by-case basis for their accommodation and what that looks like.

"Just to be absolutely clear - they're not going to live in a hotel-type accommodation - it will be accommodation potentially like they would otherwise be having if they were living in Wellington.

"We want to create ourselves as close to a normal living environment as we can."

Dome lauded the commitment of Wellington's staff and players especially given some could choose not to take their families with them, meaning they would be separated for months.

New Zealand-based players will fly to NSW in coming days to join those already based in Australia, while their teammates from overseas will fly directly to Australia to complete their hotel quarantine period.

Dome hoped to secure "a dedicated home ground" for Wellington's time in NSW.

"We don't really want to be moving around too much - that doesn't help with your planning and your preparation," he said.

"So certainly our preference is to be based in one particular location."

The Phoenix hope to play home games in Wellington later in the season, but that depends on a trans-Tasman bubble that would allow players and staff to travel without a compulsory two-week quarantine period upon arriving in New Zealand.

Wellington would also have to consider the cost of relocating back to New Zealand.

Meanwhile, star English attacker David Ball has signed a contract extension at Wellington until the end of the 2022-23 season.

Ball, 30, joined the Phoenix on a two-year deal ahead of last season and had a stellar debut campaign, scoring six goals and contributing four assists in 25 games.

Australian Associated Press