Soccer: Morgan responds to fan criticism

A Phoenix fan shows his support during the round 16 A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and the Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo / Getty Images.
A Phoenix fan shows his support during the round 16 A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix and the Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo / Getty Images.

Embattled Phoenix co-owner Gareth Morgan has responded to the backlash from his comments labelling the attitude of some of the club's fans as "pathetic".

In a blog post on his website entitled 'The latest on the Phoenix', Morgan clarified his comments, made to RadioSport host Tony Veitch a week ago but not broadcast till morning.

Morgan did not back down from the controversial statement which has invoked the ire of Phoenix fans on Twitter and the Yellow Fever message boards.

"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. That charge is pretty irrelevant as the style thing is a medium-term objective, not a goal to be achieved overnight," he wrote.

"Despite this being pointed out, some vocal fans on the message boards have continued with the charge - despite there being no ground for that. Yes I would call that intransigence, pathetic - based on emotion not evidence."

Morgan also hit out at stories surrounding his appearance at Phoenix training a fortnight ago, blaming The Dominion Post for blowing the matter out of proportion.

"This was pure invention by a gossip columnist working for the Dom Post, posing as a sports journalist," he wrote. "I have been to a number of training sessions as have other owners so none of that element of the story ... was genuine.

"Of course the public reads this fiction and the gullible believe that because it's in a newspaper it's truth - that apparently I'm now telling Ricki what to do.

"When Tony Veitch asked me last week about all this I said and I repeat that those who continue to believe ... that I'm somehow running the training etc are being silly. I said to him that the truth is totally the opposite and those that continue with the charge - whether fans or journos for that matter, despite no evidence whatsoever - are pathetic."

Fans were also in the firing line for suggesting Morgan and his fellow owners from the Welnix group should stay silent or bankroll the side so they could compete financially with teams from larger markets across the Tasman.

He said this was not the type of ownership group he was part of and, instead, Welnix wanted the club on firm financial footing.

"Those that believe owners should write the cheques and stay upstairs while everyone else gets on and loses money year after year, clearly don't know where money comes from," he wrote.

"I make no apology for dispelling the myth that club ownership is somehow symbolic only and the owners have no say in determining strategy. Proper fans need to appreciate what we need to do to ensure the Phoenix is here for the long term.

"Unless of course someone wants to step up and fund the $1m per year annual losses that currently prevail."

The blog post will run the risk of further alienating some fans, but Morgan concluded by expressing his gratitude to those who were sticking by the team.

"To all the dedicated Phoenix fans who understand the big picture, who turn up in the rain, by the tickets, cheer in the fan zone, I thank you. Your positive support in the highs and lows is appreciated by the owner's, managers and players."

- APNZ

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