Following the FFA’s decision to postpone the final rounds of the Hyundai A-League season 2019/20 due to the global pandemic COVID-19, the Wellington Phoenix will return the player and coaching squad from Australia to New Zealand.
General Manager David Dome says that prior to the FFA’s decision, the club had tried everything in its power to play out as much of the Hyundai A-League season as it could, but the spread of COVID-19 had made it untenable to remain in Australia.
“We didn’t want to subject the players and staff to the risk of being stranded in Australia for an indefinite period of time,” Dome said.
“The players, staff and management were 100% committed to doing the best it could this season and playing out as much of the Hyundai A-League season as was possible – their positive attitude and dedication is a tribute to them, as was as the support of the families, fans and the club’s corporate partners.
“This was an incredible season for the Wellington Phoenix and even though it has been postponed, it was still our highest finish to date; while we’re disappointed at the postponement, the right thing to do now is to get everyone home to their loved ones during this unprecedented time of crisis.”
The club has also received confirmation from Immigration New Zealand that its international players will be able to return to New Zealand with the rest of the Phoenix squad. Australian players Luke DeVere, Reno Piscopo, Jaushua Sotirio and Brandon Wilson have elected to remain in their home country with their families for the time being.
The rest of the squad will adhere to Government regulations and self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive back in New Zealand, which will be before the New Zealand Government closes the international border at 11.59pm on Wednesday 25 March.
The FFA has scheduled a formal status announcement for 22 April in order to assess when the Hyundai A-League season could be completed. In the meantime, the Phoenix will remain ready to continue the season if and when required, with each player being given a personal training plan to maintain their fitness during this time.