NZ's Phoenix to be based in New South Wales for new A-League season

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Wellington Phoenix will be based in Wollongong, New South Wales for the whole of the new A-League season, the team said on Tuesday following the release of the Australian top flight's 2020/21 schedule.

The Phoenix initially relocated to Australia for the final six rounds of last season's competition to ensure it could be completed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They returned to Australia again in late October to begin pre-season training at the University of Wollongong, and General Manager David Dome said it was natural they remained in the region for the duration of the A-League season.

"I have been really pleased with the support that has been shown to us by the people and city of Wollongong," Dome said in a statement on Tuesday.

"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.

"The people of Wollongong have been keen to adopt us for the season and were keen to repay their welcome and reward them with a successful A-League team to support."

The A-League kicks off on Dec. 27 with Western Sydney Wanderers hosting expansion club Macarthur FC, while Phoenix travel to face Brisbane Roar in their opener on Dec. 29.

Defending champions Sydney FC begin their chase for a record-extending sixth title against last season's beaten finalists Melbourne City at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Dec. 30.

The regular season runs until May 31 before the playoffs.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)