Phoenix fans have fight of their own

Wellington Phoenix need their fans there out in force tonight.
Wellington Phoenix need their fans there out in force tonight. Regi Varghese - Getty Images

IF THE Wellington Phoenix's supporter group had a choice, it would join the mass fan boycotts around the country this weekend.

But its hands are tied.

That is because of the FFA's refusal to grant the franchise a 10-year licence extension, the governing body saying it does not meet development, player pathway, commercial factors and broadcast requirements.

Phoenix supporters need to continue turning up in big numbers to prove to the sport's governing body that the team is still a viable option in the years to come.

The club's fans will have another chance to do that against the Melbourne Victory at QBE Stadium in Auckland tonight.

"Fighting to ensure the treatment of the league's fans is fair and reasonable and is important to us all, but will not mean much if we no longer have a club to support," said David Cross, the leader of supporter group Yellow Fever.

The Victory has made two changes to its squad, with Olyroos forward Connor Pain and Young Socceroos defender Thomas Deng promoted, while captain Carl Valeri is out due to illness.

Valeri, who made his return from injury in last week's 2-1 win over Adelaide United, has since fallen ill and will remain in Melbourne.

Pain returns after scoring a brace in the Victory's 5-4 win over Melbourne City in the National Youth League last weekend.

Scott Galloway is unavailable after he was sent off in the same game against City, while Nick Ansell (foot) and Archie Thompson (knee) also remain on the sidelines.

Victory striker Besart Berisha, who signed a two-year contract extension this week, has scored five goals in his past three A-League games.

The visitors have won 11 of their past 13 games against Wellington, while there have been 33 goals scored in the past eight meetings between the two sides.

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