Phoenix sceptical on A-Leagues expansion into Auckland

The Wellington Phoenix are lukewarm on a potential Auckland-based entrant to the A-Leagues and have queried whether investors exist for another New Zealand side.

Australian Professional Leagues CEO Danny Townsend set imaginations running on Wednesday, announcing Canberra and Auckland as preferred markets for the next two A-Leagues sides.

Auckland was home to the New Zealand Knights, a foundation A-League Men's side, which floundered and dissolved in 2007 after two wooden-spoon seasons.

New Zealand's biggest city - home to 1.7 million people - is also the largest in Australasia without a professional football team.

Given that, its selection as a preferred market did not come as a surprise to Phoenix chief executive David Dome.

"They've obviously been canvassing Auckland as an opportunity for quite some time," he said.

However, the Phoenix consider Auckland as their home turf, playing fixtures at Eden Park each season and marketing themselves as New Zealand's sole professional football outfit.

Dome said there were "pros and cons" to an Auckland team's entry for the Phoenix, putting forward improved game and player development, more media interest and a blockbuster derby among the pros.

In the against column would be competition for talent, eyeballs and commercial revenue.

Dome said the reported club licence fees of around $20 million made him an Auckland team sceptic.

"I'm certainly not aware of anyone who has that level of investment available ready to go ... either the ability to pay the entry fee or the ongoing operational costs for another A-League team," he said.

"There's a massive infrastructure cost to get it up and running. Training grounds and training facilities and football grounds to play on.

"It's not an insignificant investment that somebody has to pay. There are serious financial obstacles to overcome."

Dome added he expected Auckland-based Phoenix fans would retain their loyalties.

"Undeniably, they're going to pick up a lot of fans who want to go see football day-in day-out, but I can almost guarantee a lot of those football fans will still be Phoenix fans."