Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to leave job at end of season after two decades in charge

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he will leave his position at end of season after more than 21 years in charge.

The 68-year-old Frenchman has won the Premier League title three times and the FA Cup seven times with Arsenal since taking over in October 1996, but has faced growing disillusionment from fans in recent years.

In a statement released by Arsenal today, Wenger says he made his decision to step down "after careful consideration and following discussions with the club."

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke said it is "one of the most difficult days we have ever had in all our years in sport."

Wenger had one more year left on his contract.

Arsenal said it will make an appointment as soon as possible.

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger knows his side will need to be at their best if they’re to beat the best club in the world in the Champions League.
Source: Supplied


'I was really excited' - Kiwi youngsters win trip of a lifetime to FIFA World Cup in Russia

Two young Kiwis have won a trip of lifetime to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Isabel Bristow, 9, and Sophie Heywood, 8, will be among a handful of kids to lead the teams onto the pitch during the Football World Cup.

Both girls won the local leg of a global competition.

"I was really excited I was jumping up and down," said Bristow.

Sophie and Isabel will walk hand and hand with players before the Brazil and Costa Rica pool match in St Petersburg.

"We got a phone call and mum was so happy that she started crying," said Heywood.

The Brazil and Costa Rica pool match will be played on June 23.

Isabel Bristow and Sophie Heywood will walk out with players before the Brazil and Costa Rica match in St Petersburg. Source: 1 NEWS



Wellington Phoenix are on the brink of being axed from A-League as expansion looms

A third new team could enter the A-League in 2020 with the demise of Wellington Phoenix seemingly inevitable unless the club drastically improves its off-field performance.

The formal commencement of the expansion process has added further pressure on the Phoenix, whose licence agreement expires at the end of season 2019-20 - the same season when two new teams will join the competition.

Further extensions will only occur if the club hits certain 'metrics' around attendances and increased broadcast rights, but not even Phoenix co-owner Gareth Morgan is optimistic about reaching them.

If they don't, it paves the way for another expansion outfit to replace the Phoenix in season 2020-21.

Up to a dozen parties are expected to submit expressions of interest to Football Federation Australia, and it's understood at least two of them inquired last year as to whether Wellington's licence was up for sale.

A-League chief Greg O'Rourke confirmed to AAP that Wellington are currently below where they need to be to trigger a licence extension.

"They have metrics to hit, and we'll continue to work with Wellington Phoenix to see whether or not they're interested in improving their club to a point where those metrics become achievable," O'Rourke said.

Wellington were granted a 10-year extension in February 2016, but the last six years of that deal were conditional on reaching specific off-field benchmarks and also gaining the approval of FIFA, the Asia and Oceania confederations and New Zealand Football.

The Phoenix have averaged just 5,809 at their matches this season - the lowest attendance figure in the competition.

Their crowds have actually decreased by nearly 29 per cent over the last three campaigns, despite having been effectively put on notice by FFA to improve them.

They have had a disastrous season on the field as well and are currently without a full-time coach.

Attempts to contact Morgan, who is part of the Welnix consortium that took over the club in 2011, were unsuccessful.

But Morgan told New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB last month he was a "reluctant" owner who was willing to sell at the right price.

"We got a renewal, we're two years into it and that was dependant on particular performance criteria, which I have to say to you right at this stage don't look great," he said.

"Something's got to happen in the next two years, otherwise it's goodbye Charlie."

The striker was in hot demand after leaving Japanese club Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Nathan Burns Source: Photosport