Why are Wellington held to a different standard to Australian clubs?

“I have to be harsh and say I think it’s time to say goodbye to Wellington,” those are the words of Fox Sports pundit and former A-League coach John Kosmina after the Phoenix’s 4-0 loss to Sydney FC. There has been talk for a long time of Wellington leaving the league and it could happen soon. Their current license expires at the end of the 2019/20, with an extension being awarded if they have good results, consistently good crowds and contribute overall to the A-League. This is fair, what’s the point of having an A-League club that has poor results and poor crowds. But why don’t we hold the Australian clubs to the same standard? Because Wellington aren’t the only side who have been struggling in recent years.

Results since 2013

Wellington Phoenix
Mark Bosnich added to Kosmina’s comments saying “…it’s season after season after season where they look like they’re going to do something and all of a sudden the wheels fall off badly … the fact is they’re not really causing any threats to anyone, I think they’re not really doing Australian football any favours”. That’s true, Wellington haven’t had the best of luck in the past five seasons.

They have finished ninth twice in the past four seasons and after 18 matches they languish in bottom place this season. Last year they missed out on the finals finishing 7th, and have made a solitary finals appearance in 2014-15.

P: 127

W: 39

D: 26

L: 62

F: 178

A: 224

PTS: 143

Newcastle Jets
Newcastle are currently enjoying what’s arguably a better season than the one where they won the championship in 2007-08. New manager Ernie Merrick has recruited well and his style has taken the Jets to new heights. However they haven’t made the finals since 2009-10.

Newcastle have won the wooden spoon twice in the past three seasons and they finished 7th and 8th in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 season respectively. Their results have been worse than Wellington’s in the past half decade but, other than the FFA stripping the license of Nathan Tinkler in 2015, no one has ever said the Jets should disband.

P: 127

W: 37

D: 31

L: 59

F: 154

A: 205

PTS: 142

Central Coast Mariners
In the past three seasons the Mariners have finished eighth twice and bottom in 2015-16. They currently sit in 9th place. The season they won the wooden spoon was statically the worst team performance in A-League history. They haven’t made the finals since 2013-14 and look set to finish in the bottom three for the fourth consecutive season. But no one has ever said the Mariners should disband.

P: 129

W: 30

D: 30

L: 69

F: 143

A: 275

PTS: 120

In the past five seasons Wellington, Newcastle, and the Central Coast have had the worst results in the competition.

Coaches since 2013
Wellington have also been a bit stable in regards to keeping managers. Ernie Merrick was at the helm for three years. Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre tag teamed to finish the 2017 half of the 2016-17 season and Darije Kalezic took over at the beginning of this season.

Wellington Phoenix

  • Ernie Merrick
  • Des Buckingham and Chris Greenacre
  • Darije Kalezic

Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners lost Graham Arnold at the beginning of the 2013-14 season. His replacement Phil Moss replaced him and was at the helm before getting the sack in 2014-15. Tony Walmsley replaced Moss and wasn’t sacked until prior to the 2016-17 season when he was replaced by Paul Okon.

  • Graham Arnold
  • Paul Moss
  • Tony Walmsley
  • Paul Okon

Newcastle Jets
Newcastle have been the worst at this, giving a manager a contract then sacking them at the end of their first season. Clayton Zane was only an interim but if you count him that’s six managers Newcastle have had since 2013-14.

  • Gary van Egmond
  • Clayton Zane
  • Phil Stubbins
  • Scott Miller
  • Mark Jones
  • Ernie Merrick

Crowds since 2013

Wellington Phoenix – 481,190
Another argument Kosmina made about why Wellington should be disbanded is their crowds. Of course he has a point here. The last time the Phoenix had more than 10,000 fans attend a match was Round 1 of the 2016-17 season. They have had a couple of 11-13,000 fans but they haven’t topped the 18,056 fans that rocked up to their match against Adelaide United which took place at Eden Park in 2014.

Central Coast Mariners – 508,736
But the Mariners aren’t doing much better. Apart from their Round 1 clash against Newcastle this season they haven’t had a crowd over 10,000 in nine home matches this season.  Similar to the Phoenix they have had a bunch of 10-13,000 crowds but haven’t topped the 17,134 fans that attended their match against Western Sydney in October 2013.

Newcastle Jets – 616,946
Despite their struggles on the field their fans have consistently supported them over the past few years. Unlike the Phoenix and Mariners they have consistently had over 10,000 fans attend a match. They haven’t had a crowd over the 16,634 they had in a match against Western Sydney in December 2013.

Players used since 2013
And to top it off, it’s worth noting that Newcastle and the Mariners have used a heck of a lot more players than Wellington. Many players have come and gone in the past five seasons for the Jets and Central Coast, and the same can obviously been said about Wellington but not to the same extent.

Newcastle Jets – 79

Central Coast Mariners – 73

Wellington Phoenix – 58

So why do we always hear about the possibility of Wellington being evicted from the A-League and not Newcastle and the Central Coast. Obviously Newcastle bring in a lot of crowds and have turned their fortunes around this season, but the Mariners have consistently finish in low positions and have done so playing in front of poor crowds. Just like Wellington, sure the Mariners and Newcastle are Australian clubs. If the Nix are considered being dropped then surely it’s worth taking a look at the other clubs.

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