Steven Holloway is the football writer for the NZ Herald.

Football: NZ Football apologise over botched Phoenix loan

The Wellington Phoenix career of English striker Alex Jones is over before it began, after his loan to the club was denied today. Photo / Twitter.
The Wellington Phoenix career of English striker Alex Jones is over before it began, after his loan to the club was denied today. Photo / Twitter.

New Zealand Football have apologised to Alex Jones and the Wellington Phoenix over their role in the international transfer saga which has seen the English import return home before kicking a ball for the A-League club.

The paperwork required to complete Jones' transfer from Birmingham City to the Phoenix was submitted to New Zealand Football three days before the international transfer window closed but a resigning employee, a public holiday, a break down in communication and an internet outage prevented the loan-deal to go through on time.

Listen to Darcy Waldegrave talk to Daniel Farrow:

New Zealand Football head of national competitions Daniel Farrow wasn't prepared to say who was accountable for the administrative error, but said a nominated representative was responsible for picking up the international transfers.

"Our primary staff member, who was responsible for international transfers, left New Zealand Football to take up a new role on Friday the 29th of January and the transfer request from the Wellington Phoenix was loaded into the FIFA system on the Saturday," said Farrow.

"Our nominated staff member replacement at that time was out of regular internet access and staff then acted immediately after the Auckland Anniversary weekend to process the transfer via the online system on the Tuesday. But they were unable to complete the final step in that process and sought to clarify the issue."

Farrow said New Zealand Football are disappointed with the outcome.

"We're extremely disappointed for the Phoenix and for Alex and we have apologised to him and the club for our part in the situation."

Jones had continued to train with the Phoenix, but will now return to England.

The incident leaves another stain on New Zealand Football's blotted record

It's not the first time New Zealand Football have dropped the administrative ball over the last decade.

-In 2015, the Oly Whites were kicked out of the OFC Olympic qualifying tournament on the day of the final after opponents Vanuatu protested the semifinal result due to the ineligibly of defender Deklan Wynne. The defender had already made his All Whites debut and played at the Under-20 World Cup but was found to have failed to meet the Fifa regulations for a player born outside of his representative country. It soon emerged that 16 players who had represented the All Whites, New Zealand under-17s, New Zealand under-20s and New Zealand under-23s within the past year also appeared to fall short of Article 7 of Fifa's eligibility requirements. Fred de Jong resigned as NZF high performance director because of the eligibility issue.

-In 2009 All Whites goalkeeper Glen Moss was sent off in a dead-rubber World Cup qualifier against Fiji for saying "the F-bomb" to the referee, earning an excessive four-match ban from Fifa. But NZF failed to lodge an appeal in time, claiming they never received the original fax from Fifa. When NZF finally got it on December 23, they were "shutting down for Christmas" and the mess resulted in Moss sitting on the sidelines for the two qualifiers against Bahrain and the first two games of the World Cup.

-In 2008, NZF needed a $1.5 million bank loan to keep themselves above water because of huge debts. Their costly international activity was cited as the main reason and it resulted in the departure of Graham Seatter as chief executive, with many other staff laid off to keep costs down.

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