The AFC has confirmed that the Phoenix, the only New Zealand team in the A-League, will be given this dispensation in line with FIFA’s approval even though the club do not fulfil ACL criteria.
However, New Zealand players will be treated as locals while Australians will be considered as foreigners.
The Wellington issue has a major impact on the Football Federation of Australia’s (FFA) eligibility to have its clubs play in the ACL from 2012 onwards.
In a letter to FFA, the AFC said from 2012, if Wellington Phoenix FC participate in the A-League under the same conditions (as they are doing now), FFA would fail to meet the criteria and will lose the right to participate in the ACL 2012.
The decision came during the AFC Professional League Ad Hoc Committee meeting held on October 30, 2009.
Furthermore, the AFC said the FFA can continue to participate in the ACL from 2012 under the following conditions.
- Wellington Phoenix FC should be officially registered as a commercial entity in Australia under local law.
- To comply with the provisions of the Regulations, the number of foreign players (non-Australian) in Wellington Phoenix FC should be the same as in other clubs participating in the A-League. In case Wellington Phoenix qualifiy for the ACL, the 3+1 system should be implemented by the club according to the ACL Regulations.
- Otherwise, Wellington Phoenix FC should belong to the second division of the A-League, which should be newly created by the FFA.