Now that the start of the upcoming new A-League season has officially been locked in for December 27, Wellington Phoenix players and staff officially face spending Christmas Day in Australia. The calendars for both the A-League and W-League 2020-21 seasons were on Thursday announced by Football Federation Australia.
The current understanding is that Phoenix are planning to complete the bulk of their preparations for the upcoming season in Australia. The recently announced relaxed cross-border restrictions will allow the squad to travel unhindered to New South Wales without having to spend any time bio-bubbled in isolation. They will however have to remain in New South Wales until such time as a two-way travel bubble is announced.
The upcoming season will run for a period spanning 23 weeks, the FFA announced on Thursday. And since the final series is only expected to conclude in June, the Phoenix could face spending time away from home for more than six months.
A particularly challenging prospect is the uncertainty surrounding the anticipated time frame regarding a trans-Tasman travel-bubble. And since flights, accommodation and even stadia will have to be booked well in advance, the Phoenix won’t likely be in a position to take advantage of the bubble any time soon after it does become operational.
The likelihood of the Phoenix spending Christmas in Australia isn’t the worst of their problems, either. A series of player departures off the back of their loss to Perth Glory in the first round of the finals roughly eight weeks ago has left the team with a total of only 12 players contracted for next season. The minimum number of required players is 20.
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