Wellington Phoenix have issued an unusual statement which reiterates the club isn't looking to sell its licence before demanding big changes to the way Football Federation Australia (FFA) runs the A-League.
Speculation has mounted over the past month about Phoenix's future, with reports the club had been in discussions with expansion bidders about a sale or merge.
The latest link was confirmed by FFA CEO David Gallop who admitted he held a meeting with Phoenix chairman Rob Morrison and South West Sydney FC expansion bid head Gino Marra about a potential merger deal.
Wellington has previously unconvincingly rejected those claims, conceding there had been talks despite insisting they're unwilling to sell.
The latest statement read: "We can reiterate however, as stated by the Chairman Rob Morrison recently, that the club is not looking to sell its licence.
"Of more immediate concern to the club is the state of the A-League."
Phoenix, instead, said they are "open to external investors" in the club, following another difficult season on and off field.
"Media outlets have reported all manner of approaches to and outcomes for the Phoenix. Some of the approaches are real but the majority are imagined," the statement read.
"With reportedly interest from 10 groups for two expansion teams there is plenty of scope for speculation.
"As the club has previously disclosed, the Phoenix have had discussions with parties interested in participating in the expansion of the A-League, as well as the future of the A-League and it should come as no surprise that continues to be the case.
"Welnix as the owners have consistently maintained that they are open to external investors who could bring capital and players to the club as well as providing professional development pathways for the players from New Zealand.
"Although there are currently potential options that are worth exploring what is certain, despite the leaky nature of the industry, is the Phoenix will not conduct any of those discussions via the media.
"The speculation is hugely disappointing and clearly upsetting for fans and sponsors but unfortunately the club cannot control it."
The statement moved on to demand structural changes in the A-League, insisting talk by the FFA of marquee signings and new digital and marketing deals wasn't sufficient after a season where all key metrics were down.
"With double digit falls in viewership levels, falling crowd numbers and all clubs losing money there has to be a material change to the construct of the League," the statement read.
"The best case scenario for the A-League clubs, including the Phoenix, is the creation of a truly independent A-League with new management and a distribution of revenues that reflect the way they are generated.
"The needed structural changes will not happen in the short term but it is clearly imperative that decisive action is taken now by the FFA ahead of the 18/19 season to halt the decline in the Leagues metrics.
"Tinkering around the edges with marquee funds and the like is not sufficient."