Wellington Phoenix players will be allowed to bring their partners and families with them to Australia after the club’s decision to base themselves in NSW for the start of the A-League season.
Because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Ufuk Talay-coached Phoenix squad will assemble in NSW from next week ahead of the competition’s December 27 start.
The Phoenix were also based in NSW for the concluding stages of the 2019-20 A-League season, but the club’s general manager David Dome has promised that this time, it won’t be “hotel-type” accommodation but instead “as normal as possible”.
“Some of the players will take families with them and we’re going to facilitate that,” Dome told NZME.
“And some of the players may take partners as well. We’re working with them on a case-by-case basis to see what it looks like.
“It will be like accommodation potentially that they would be otherwise having if they were living in Wellington.”
Dome said the Phoenix’s preference was a permanent NSW base, with Wollongong, Canberra, Gosford and Tamworth reported options.
“We’d like to have a dedicated home ground that we can work out of and that we can call our home, and our base, and hopefully get the local community involved and get them behind the team,” Dome said
“We’re working on that now. We don’t really want to be moving around too much because that doesn’t help with your planning and your preparation.
“Our preference is to be based in one location.”
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Dome admitted players who could not bring partners and/or families to NSW might not see loved ones for six months.
The New Zealand Warriors rugby league team spent a similarly long time based in NSW to ensure the 2020 NRL season could go ahead.
“We want to play games here back in New Zealand in front of fans, (but) there is no real indication that (a trans-Tasman bubble) is going to happen,” he said.
“The commitment of the players and the staff have been exceptional. The players have been excellent and reiterated their desire to get out there and get the job done.
“They all understand why we have to do this, and it’s just not possible to play games in New Zealand at this stage.”
Dome said being based in NSW would assist the club’s pre-season program.
“There are four or five other A-League clubs close to where we’re going to be based, and we can have A-League opposition, which we’ve always struggled for in a normal pre-season,” he said.
“This is probably the best way to prepare for next season.”
Depending on where they are currently based, Phoenix players flying into NSW – including Mexican star Ulises Davila – might have to spend two weeks in quarantine on their arrival.
The Phoenix also announced the re-signing of English striker David Ball.
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