Derbies supercharge A-League ratings and generate an electric tribal excitement. Now, as the competition plans its future post-COVID, is a second A-League team in New Zealand a smart expansion play?
And studies suggest the New Zealand economy will grow in 2021 in sharp comparison to Australia which is on the brink of recession.
"Without knowing the exact numbers, I know it’s [running costs] significant and that Wellington Phoenix is not making massive profits or any money at all,” adds Pine.
"Anything they make is reinvested back into the club and the academy (which has produced Bayern Munich’s Sarpreet Singh, rising star Libby Cacace, Ben Waine and Sam Sutton in recent years).
"A-League owners need very deep pockets and the Welnix model of multiple shareholders rather than just one person bankrolling the club is by far the best scenario.
"You’ll remember the club’s first owner, Terry Serepisos, struck financial problems in his business and had to forfeit the club ahead of the 2011/12 season.”
The argument 'New Zealand benefits at the expense of Australia with an A-League spot' remains, though it is a moot one.
Australian young players and coaches have benefitted from Wellington Phoenix.
Former Sydney FC player, Australian Max Burgess and David Williams reinvented their careers under Australian coach Mark Rudan last season.
And, in Burgess’s case, he is now one of the most improved players in the A-League at Rudan’s club Western United.
Similarly, youngster Cam Devlin, Olyroo, and future Socceroo, Reno Piscopo plus Jaushua Sotirio are all key parts of the current Phoenix side this season, under Australian first-time A-League coach Ufuk Talay.
Additionally, the style in which Wellington Phoenix has played in the last two seasons has been a revelation.
As the club prepares for a second A-League Finals Series next month, there is a feeling the New Zealand club is adding value to the A-League.
The Sydney Derby; Melbourne Derby, F3 Derby.
Will a "Kiwi Klassico”, an “Aotearoa Derby" or a "Battle of New Zealand" be part of a bumper first month of any new A-League season in years to come as Wellington Phoenix face their country's new noisy neighbors?
Pine, like many, hopes so.
"As for a catchy name, I’ll leave that to the marketers!” he adds.