Excitement turned into exasperation for Wellington Phoenix fans yesterday as Michael McGlinchey was signed, then un-signed, in an embarrassing administrative bungle.
A story headlined "Phoenix bring McGlinchey home" appeared on the A-League's website yesterday morning, trumpeting the signing of the All Whites midfielder on a two-year contract.
The story, quoting McGlinchey and Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick, was later removed after media manager Russell Gray said it was "published in error."
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 Central Coast Mariners but is currently on loan to Japanese club Vegalta Sendai.
The Mariners are digging their heels in and issued a press release yesterday 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 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."
Football Federation Australia media operations manager Adam Mark said the FFA was "investigating the matter internally" before making comment on how the draft press release had been prematurely published.
Phoenix general manager David Dome said he couldn't comment on the situation.
There will be some nervous folk at Phoenix HQ while Wellington-born McGlinchey, on holiday with his family in Scotland, will presumably be dismayed at how things have unfolded.
A messy tug-of-war over McGlinchey's services now seems likely.
The leaked story said the 27-year-old had signed with the Phoenix after securing an early release from Vegalta Sendai and had opted to join Wellington rather than the Mariners, for whom he made 121 appearances and helped win the 2012-13 A-League title.
"I'm really excited to be joining the Phoenix," McGlinchey said.
"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 . . .
"When I was with the All Whites last week the lads said they thought Ernie would get the best out of me. 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. I want to help the Phoenix win things because the Wellington fans deserve some success."
The story said McGlinchey would play for the Phoenix against West Ham United at Eden Park on July 23.
McGlinchey left Wellington as a one-year-old when his family returned to Scotland after father Norrie played for Stop Out and Hutt Valley United.
Merrick views the diminutive McGlinchey as the ideal replacement for Carlos Hernandez, who was released last month.
"I was looking for an attacking midfielder, someone who could play No 10 or out wide, and Michael fits the bill perfectly," Merrick said in the story.
"He is a hard worker but can also provide quality, accurate passes to the strikers. I think it is [a] major coup for the Phoenix to get his signature."
- The Dominion Post
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