Wellington Phoenix will call Wollongong’s WIN Stadium home during the upcoming A-League season.
The venue is probably best known as a base for St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL.
The Phoenix will open their new A-league campaign in Brisbane on December 29, with their first ‘home’ match scheduled for January 2 against defending champions Sydney FC.
Phoenix general manager David Dome says the city of Wollongong represents a solid ‘alternative’ home for the club in Australia.
“I have been really pleased with the support that has been shown to us by the people and city of Wollongong, and I’ve been extremely impressed by the willingness of everyone to get in behind the Phoenix and support A-League football in the region”, Dome says.
"We’re looking forward to putting on a show here to the Wollongong people for our home matches, as well as becoming part of the community. Our players are keen to get out there and meet the fans, and we want the Wollongong public to really get to know us and what we’re all about.
"The people of Wollongong have been keen to ‘adopt’ us for the season, and we’re keen to repay their welcome and reward them with a successful A-League team to support."
The Phoenix have spent the past three weeks conducting pre-season training in Wollongong and will now base themselves in South Sydney for the A-League season, which starts on December 27.
"I'm very happy with the boys,” coach Ufuk Talay says. “They're eager, keen and we have an average age of 24.
“It's a young group that are ambitious, want to improve and want to prove people wrong, and those are the players I want to work with.
"There have been some new faces come in and the core group have stayed from last season, which is great for us to continue that work we did previously."
Talay says being based in Australia will be very different to last time and will be a lot easier on his players.
“Last time we were here, it was a different situation, being in a hub and being very restricted in what we could do,” he says.
"There is a little bit more normality, as we are not stuck in a hotel room on top of each other, and players can go home and live their lives as normal."