The Wellington Phoenix appear set for a messy tug-of-war with the Central Coast Mariners over the services of All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey.
Officials from both the Phoenix and Mariners were unimpressed today after the A-League website jumped the gun on the McGlinchey negotiations.
A story appeared on the website saying McGlinchey had left the Mariners and signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix.
It quoted both McGlinchey and Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick but the story has since been pulled.
The Mariners are digging their heels in and issued a press release today saying McGlinchey was still their man.
''Central Coast Mariners wish to deny reports that midfielder Michael McGlinchey has been released from his contract with the club,'' the Mariners statement said, before quoting club chairman Michael Charlesworth.
"Michael is still under contract with us," Charlesworth said.
"We look forward to him returning to the Mariners from Vegalta Sendai for Hyundai A-League season ten."
Phoenix spokesman Russell Gray said the transfer had not been completed. Gray had pre-written the story about a week ago but it was not supposed to appear online until the deal had been finalised.
McGlinchey is contracted to the Mariners but has been on loan with Japanese club Vegalta Sendai.
If the deal goes through, it would be a coup for the Phoenix.
In the story, McGlinchey said he was ''really excited to be joining the Phoenix.''
"Results may not have gone their way last season and there were a lot of injuries, but I was impressed by the football they were trying to play,'' McGlinchey said.
''In two of the three games the Mariners had against them they outplayed us. The Phoenix have always been a hard team to beat but Ernie is also turning them into a good side to watch."
McGlinchey said a factor in his decision was knowing a lot of the Phoenix players through the All Whites.
"When I was with the All Whites last week the lads said they thought Ernie would get the best out of me," he said.
"The only thing missing last season was goals, but with the right sort of service someone like Brocks (Jeremy Brockie) will get 10 to 15."
Merrick was quoted as saying he was delighted to have secured McGlinchey's signature.
"I was looking for an attacking midfielder, someone who could play No 10 or out wide, and Michael fits the bill perfectly," Merrick said.
"He is a hard worker but can also provide quality, accurate passes to the strikers. Michael is very experienced having been a regular in a very good team and playing in two grand finals.
"He is also an established international player who has played in the World Cup finals for the All Whites. He might not be flashy but is a quality player who can also provide top-class delivery at set pieces.
"In my opinion Michael doesn't always get the credit he deserves. Midfield is the engine room for any team and he is a real worker. I think it is major coup for the Phoenix to get his signature."
McGlinchey left Wellington as a one-year-old when the family returned to Scotland after father Norrie had played for Stop Out and Hutt Valley United.
Released by Celtic in 2009, McGlinchey joined the Mariners and remained at the club till going on loan to Japan earlier this year.
"I always felt I would end up playing in New Zealand like my dad," he said.
"I want to help the Phoenix win things because the Wellington fans deserve some success. I like the make-up of the team Ernie is putting together this season and the All Whites boys tell me everyone at the club has bought into his philosophy."
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