Phoenix fans bite back at Gareth Morgan barb

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013

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The Yellow Fever have dismissed Gareth Morgan, and his comments about Wellington Phoenix fans, as irrelevant.

The A-League club's supporters group was insulted by what Morgan told a radio interviewer, when he labelled them as "pathetic" for expecting the team to achieve winning results in the competition.

But while Morgan is part of the Phoenix's ownership consortium Welnix, the Yellow Fever doesn't believe he wields much clout.

"He's not even the owner. When Terry [Serepisos] spoke about what the club was going to do, you knew the club was going to do it because he was the guy. Gareth is one loud voice, but he isn't the decision-maker on any front," Yellow Fever spokesman Guy Smith said.

"I have a lot to do with [part-owner] Henry Tait and a bit to do with [chairman] Rob Morrison and these guys are determined and confident. But coming out [as Morgan did] and abusing your fans, the ones that are still coming despite the fact your team is s..t, that's not productive, that's not out of the ownership handbook."

Between their season pass holders and forum members, Smith said the Yellow Fever was more than 5000-strong.

"It's most of the people that are turning up at the moment. As pathetic and unsophisticated as I may be, I and many others like me have been really committed to the club over a longer period of time than Gareth has been.

"I'll be at the game [against Newcastle] this weekend. I'm not sure Gareth will be."

Morgan is in China and spoke to a reporter from The Dominion Post yesterday, in relation to a news feature which will run in tomorrow's edition. Morgan was informed of the reaction his negative comments had garnered from fans and sent this statement in reply.

"I observe that some, not all, fans are blaming the team position on the league table as being a result of a wholesale change in style. At least they have been since the medium-term strategy of changing style became publicly known. That charge is pretty irrelevant as the style thing is a medium-term objective, not a goal to be achieved overnight. Besides, the performances in the first halves of the games against Victory and Wests gives lie to that suggestion. Despite this being pointed out, some vocal fans on the message boards have continued with the charge. Yes I would call that intransigence, pathetic - based on emotion not evidence," Morgan wrote.

Smith said most Yellow Fever members had no issue with the change of style, despite the club being last on the A-League table and suffering a humiliating 7-1 loss to Sydney FC last Saturday. Their issue is that the talk about style has enabled Morgan to change the season's narrative, when a title was being mentioned before the campaign began.

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"The results didn't go our way and Gareth came out and said it doesn't matter because we're changing the style so you guys should just be happy to wait for three years. If you don't want to wait for three years, then you're just pathetic.

"They've latched on to the change of style as a way out."

Serepisos, the club's licence holder before Welnix came on board, declined an invitation to respond to Morgan's latest assertions.

- The Dominion Post

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