The W-League will have 10 teams next season with Wellington Phoenix set to enter the competition for the first time.
Central Coast Mariners and Western United are also expected to join the W-League from the 2022-23 campaign as the women’s game gets some much needed expansion in Australia.
First though, it will be a New Zealand team that gets their first taste of the action with the Phoenix finally securing a team in the competition.
The timing of their addition isn’t exactly ideal however due to ongoing COVID-19 restraints around travel with the club’s W-League and A-League team preparing to set up a base initially in a New South Wales hub.
Despite playing the majority of their home games in Wollongong last season, Wellington’s A-League team finished a respectable seventh and just one point shy of finals football.
Their W-League team will now look to hit the ground running with coaching and player announcements to come quickly in the following weeks.
“We’ve all been busy in the background over the past few years, working towards this exact moment – now that we’ve been given the green light, I’m confident that the club can finalise the squad relatively quickly in preparation for the season start,” Phoenix general manager David Dome said.
“We’re really looking forward to making history for women’s football in New Zealand.”
The 2021-22 W-League season is currently scheduled to kick off on November 13 but like the A-League it might push back that start date due to COVID-19.
Australian Professional Leagues (APL) commissioner Greg O’Rourke believes Phoenix’s addition to the W-League is a step in the right direction for football.
“We promised we would move quickly to implement the vision contained in our strategy for the growth of women’s football, and having Wellington join the W-League next season immediately creates more games and more football,” O’Rourke said.
“It comes hot on the heels of a groundbreaking collective bargaining agreement that immediately lifts standards across all our clubs, particularly for the players in the W-League teams.
“We would like to thank both Football Australia and New Zealand Football for their part in helping us to expand the W-League. This is an exciting day for APL but is just one more step in our bold plans for the growth of the game.”