Adam Le Fondre of Sydney competes with Steven Taylor of the Phoenix
Adam Le Fondre of Sydney competes with Steven Taylor of the Phoenix

The reason behind bizarre A-League fixture shift

Anxiety over home crowd numbers has prompted the Wellington Phoenix to take their February A-League match against Sydney FC to Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney.

The round 20 clash on February 23 couldn't be staged at Wellington's Westpac Stadium because of a Kapa Haka festival, forcing Phoenix management to seek alternative venues in New Zealand.

General manager David Dome said despite an exhaustive search, no Kiwi venue could provide a viable business model.

An average crowd size of 6229 through five home games this season is a disappointing return for the Phoenix, who are under pressure to improve that figure.

Football Federation Australia have set down targets, including crowd numbers, which will determine whether it extends the Kiwi club's licence beyond 2019-20.

Phoenix fans celebrate a goal
Phoenix fans celebrate a goal

"Despite the excellent results that head coach Mark Rudan and the players have delivered recently, we are still struggling to get the crowds to come back to Westpac Stadium," Dome said in a statement to club supporters.

"This is hugely concerning for all at the club as crowd attendance is one of our key metrics that we need to meet, plus it's a fundamental part of the ongoing sustainability of the club."

The Phoenix hope all their metrics will be be boosted on February 15 when they host Melbourne Victory at New Zealand's largest venue, Eden Park.

Dome said the club was attracted by Campbelltown Stadium officials' pledge to draw a large crowd, which will comprise mostly Sydney FC fans. The Phoenix have offered reduced-cost packages for fans wanting to travel to Sydney for the game.

It will be the sixth A-League game staged at Campbelltown Stadium. The others have been home games for Sydney FC and, more recently, Western Sydney Wanderers.

News Corp Australia


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