Football Ferns empathise with Chloe Knott after walking away from Wellington Phoenix over financial pressure

The Football Ferns understand the decision of now-former Wellington Phoenix midfielder Chloe Knott, who has left the game indefinitely.  

The Phoenix has confirmed Know, 27, had been released from the rest of her contract effective immediately, citing the financial pressure of balancing football and working life. 

However, in a social media post, Knott herself wrote that money was only part of the issue, and that her "values no longer align with the club or current management".  

Knott had been part of the Phoenix women's side since its inception in 2021 and played every game in the club's short history.

Chloe Knott.
Chloe Knott. Photo credit: Photosport

Newshub understands most of the Phoenix women's squad earn $32,000 per season, with the A-League Women's salary cap being lower than that of their male counterparts at $600,000, compared to $2.5 million.

As the Football Ferns prepare to face Colombia in an international friendly on Sunday morning (NZ time), defender Rebekah Stott empathised with Knott's situation, as part of the reality of the women's game still moving towards full professionalism in this part of the world. 

"It's not new," she said. "We've struggled with pay for a long time now.

"Obviously, it is getting better, but there's still so far to go.

"Knowing it's not just about money is a bit concerning, but I think Chloe has made the right decision for her and she's happy with that.

"It's so sad to see someone go out of football, but we wish her the best."

The Phoenix have told Newshub that while not wanting to directly respond to Knott's post, the club hopes for a rise in the league's salary cap, and is confident Knott's situation is unique and not symptomatic of the Phoenix women's squad as a whole. 

"The club respects her opinion and will continue to work to champion the Wellington Phoenix women's team," it said.

"A lot of time has been invested into our women's programme, on the off the pitch, over the past six months to a point where we believe it is the best high-performance environment in the league. We've created an environment players want to be a part of.

"The wider club has also undertaken a lot of work on our culture and values this year, and inaugural women's captain Lily Alfeld has recently been appointed to lead this area in the future.

"We are fighting for A-League women's players to be paid better. The club will continue to push Australian Professional Leagues (APL) to increase the minimum wage and the salary cap, which are dramatically undervaluing our players."

Knott is yet to be capped at international level, but the midfielder is no stranger to Football Ferns head coach Jitka Klimkova. The pair worked together with the New Zealand youth set-up and Knott was also part of the Football Ferns programme for this year's home Football World Cup.

Klimkova says she has been in communication with Knott and will look to get to the bottom of the issue, once she returns home from Football Ferns duties. 

"I want to learn a little bit more about what's behind it," said Klimkova. "We are in touch and when I get back to New Zealand, we'll have a coffee and chat more about it.

"Women's sport is growing. We had an amazing opportunity to have the World Cup in New Zealand.

"We can see how much women's football has developed and how much the fans are loving it. Those ones absolutely deserve to be paid for it."

With an existing relationship that could have developed further at international level, Klimkova also hope Knott's exit from the Phoenix doesn't spell the end of her career altogether.

"For me, I hope it's not the end of her football journey," she added. "I hope we will find a way to bring this really good footballer back to the game.

"I know how much she loves it. There has to be some reason, it's very concerning and I want to know it."