New Zealand football fans might be able to watch W-League action on home soil as early as November if the Wellington Phoenix can take advantage of moves to expand the competition.
The W-League – which currently consists of nine franchise clubs based in Australia – will expand to 12 teams by 2023 to capitalise on the co-hosting of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Favourites to receive W-League licences are Central Coast, Western United and the Phoenix who were reportedly close to securing a licence for last season.
Australian Professional Leagues (APL) managing director Danny Townsend says the “likely scenario” is one team will join for the upcoming season with the other two to enter before 2022-23, according to a report in thewomensgame.com.
The new season is scheduled to start in November but COVID-19 outbreaks in New South Wales and Victoria might force the competition to be delayed.
Townsend believes the pipeline of young talent justifies expansion of the competition.
Meanwhile, the Wellington Phoenix have acknowledged the expansion news with a brief statement: “Wellington Phoenix welcome APL’s announcement this morning of an expansion to the W-League competition, with Wellington Phoenix one of three Clubs in consideration for entry ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.”
Main photo: Melbourne Victory … current champions.
What to expect
Here’s a sample of what the W-League is like … highlights from April’s Grand Final between Sydney and Melbourne Victory: