Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has drawn a line in the sand on his future, saying that he won't be in the capital next season unless his family relocate to New Zealand.
Rudan also said that he is prepared to take a year off coaching next season, rather than live away from his wife and two sons for another campaign.
The speculation over Rudan's position for the 2019-2020 season has dominated football debate in this country since before Christmas.
The Australian is only nine months into a two-year deal at the club, but has so far refused to commit to honouring the second year of his deal.
He has also been strongly linked with positions at the two new A League expansion clubs (in Melbourne and Sydney).
His reluctance to confirm his ongoing presence in Wellington has centred on two factors.
The difficulty of living away from his Sydney-based family —which he has regularly said is harder than he had ever imagined it would be — and his personal concerns over the ambition of the owners to invest in the club.
Different options have been discussed to alleviate his family situation, but Rudan has decided that only a permanent switch will be feasible.
"My family is the big one," Rudan told Jason Pine on Radio Sport. "They are first and foremost. I have struggled to live without them. We have had discussion about it, but I've made a decision that my family has to be with me. It's not going to be a come and go situation. It just doesn't work. My boys need me, I need them as well. The club are working hard to try and improve the situation."
Rudan has two teenage sons (15 and 12), as well as his wife Sylvia based in Sydney. He has managed to stay on after some away trips, and they have visited this country, but Rudan says that is not enough.
"If I have to take a year off to be with my family, I'll be with my family," said Rudan. "If I coach here, great, but my family will have to be with me for that to happen.
"If I coach in Australia, my family will be with me at the end of this season. Whether it is Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Townsville, Brisbane..wherever it is, my family will be with me."
When asked if he wants to be at the Phoenix long-term, Rudan gave a convoluted answer.
"Am I solely focussed on my job? Absolutely," said Rudan.
"Am I focussed on improving and being the best coach for this football club? Absolutely. Do I want to see the club grow? Yes, I do. Do I want to see it improve? Of course I do. I'm here and I'm going to be working as hard as I can. The plan is to stay here. If I can. I have to get my personal situation sorted out."
Rudan added that the foundations are there for future success, even if he was to depart in a few months.
"There are structures in place, there are pillars there," said Rudan. "If I was to walk away, everyone knows it is a better place than it was.
"I think it is. Do I want to stay and finish it off? I do. Do I want to win the first piece of silverware for this club? I do. That is what I am driven to do. And talks are ongoing."
However, Rudan also discounted talk that he was obliged to stay for next season at least, given the Phoenix had offered him his first professional deal.
"I'll be forever grateful for [chairman] Rob Morrison for giving me the opportunity to coach this football club," said Rudan. "I've knocked back four [A League] offers in the past....it's not like this is a first offer that has come my way."
Rudan's immediate priority is to address a worrying form slump, ahead of Saturday's match against the Central Coast Mariners.
The Phoenix have only won once since mid-January, with three draws and three defeats in that span.
That's allowed the Newcastle Jets (26 points) to close the gap with the Phoenix (28 points) in the battle for sixth spot, though the New Zealand team has a game in hand.