Tensions have been further inflamed between the Wellington Phoenix and Football Federation Australia after coach Ernie Merrick was banned from the technical area in Tuesday night's FFA Cup game in Adelaide.
Merrick watched on helplessly from the Marden Sports Complex stands as the Phoenix were bundled out of the knockout competition in their maiden appearance with a 1-0 loss to Adelaide United.
The usually good-humoured Scotsman told Fairfax Media afterwards that he was banished to the stands because he had refused to sign the FFA's code of conduct document.
"I wasn't prepared to sign it without looking into it a bit more and seeing what happens with Michael McGlinchey," Merrick said.
"There's a part of it that's got to do with grievance procedures, which I'd never thought much about until I've seen what's happened with Michael so I wanted some time to have a look at it in more detail. Because if that's the grievance procedure, maybe it needs a bit of work done to it. They [FFA] were adamant that I couldn't be in the technical area so that was fine by me."
McGlinchey, the 27-year-old All Whites midfielder, remains in limbo as the spat over his contractual status continues in Sydney this week.
An FFA spokesman said independent arbitration had kicked off at FFA offices on Tuesday with McGlinchey attending along with representatives from the Phoenix, including general manager David Dome, and the Central Coast Mariners.
The spokesman said the case had been "part-heard" and would resume later this week.
The saga has been simmering since June when the FFA was forced to apologise for an administrative own goal in which McGlinchey's signing with the Phoenix was announced prematurely.
Both the Phoenix and Mariners argue they have him under contract but McGlinchey wants to play for his hometown club.
With the backing of Professional Footballers Australia, he has been training with the Phoenix for a month but is yet to take the field as he awaits a ruling from the FFA.
The arbitrator's decision is now expected next week.
"This has been going on for weeks and weeks," Merrick said.
"There's something else happening on Friday [tomorrow] and then something next week but I don't know. If this a grievance procedure, I'm not sure that it's a very good one."
Merrick joked that his players were happy with the dugout ban as it meant they didn't have to listen to him shouting at them.
The Phoenix's next pre-season hitout is not until August 17 against a New Zealand 'A' selection in Taupo.
"Anthony Hudson is going to take all of our All Whites players, I'll take the rest," Merrick said.
"The whole squad then get a run and we'll top it up with under-20s."
It is expected that the Phoenix's bid to field a reserve team in the 2014-15 national league will be accepted and there have been suggestions that Neil Emblen will be the coach in a job-share with NZ Football.
"We haven't confirmed a team but I'm pretty sure we're going to get there," Merrick said.
"That will be a huge step forward for us. We've spoken with a range of prospective coaches who will remain anonymous and we'll finish up with the right person. Neil getting the [All Whites] assistant coach gig is a good thing because he knows the lie of the land, the players, he's coached the national team and done well so I think that is a good combination."
- The Dominion Post
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