Phoenix coach hits back at Perth Glory for not wanting to travel to NZ

Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay has hit out at the Perth Glory, after the Western Australian club said they did not want to travel to New Zealand to play in one of the Phoenix's only two proper home games of the season.

Ufuk Talay reacts during the A-League match between Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix. Source: Photosport

The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble has given the Phoenix the opportunity to finally return home and host two of their remaining games on New Zealand shores at the end of May, against Western United and Perth Glory.

However, Perth's chief executive Tony Pignata told Stuff earlier this week he wanted their fixture staged at the Phoenix's temporary home base in Wollongong, due to the ongoing Covid-19 concerns, only further emphasised by Perth going into a three-day lockdown this weekend.

“I've spoken to [Phoenix CEO] David [Dome], and I've got a close affinity with the Phoenix being the inaugural CEO and everything, but at this stage we would rather not travel to [New Zealand]," Pignata told Stuff.

“We understand and sympathise with Wellington and the sacrifice they've made, but given the schedule and the flying time it's difficult for us to get over there and then play the game and come back."

But Talay has hit back, saying it was "very disappointing" to not have their long-awaited return home supported by their Australian counterparts.

"We've been here [in Australia] since November to play in the competition. We’ve played with no home fans and we’ve waited a long time for this to happen.

"Unfortunately for Perth they’re always going to be travelling because they’re the furthest point away for everybody.

"For us it’s important that we can come home and play a couple games. At the end of the day I hope the right decision is made and we have the opportunity to play that game."

The Phoenix host Adelaide United in Wollongong tomorrow, and an announcement regarding the potential games in New Zealand is expected to be made next week.