The Wellington Phoenix career of English striker Alex Jones may be over before it's begun with the paperwork required for his loan transfer from Birmingham City to the A-League club not submitted before football's global transfer window closed.
The incident leaves another stain on New Zealand Football's blotted record, given the paperwork was submitted to them on time but they didn't forward it onto Fifa before the cutoff.
Jones' transfer required sign-off from a number of parties, including his English club Birmingham City, the English Football Association, Wellington Phoenix and NZF.
The Phoenix sent the required paperwork to NZF's Auckland offices on January 30, three days before the transfer deadline of midnight on February 2.
February 1 was a public holiday in Auckland, but staff returned to work the following day. However, for some reason, the paperwork was not submitted as required.
NZME understands the person charged with that responsibility was out of internet range at the time the paperwork was emailed to NZF and did not see it until the transfer deadline had passed.
Publicly, the Phoenix were playing a straight bat today, releasing a joint statement with NZF on the matter.
"The loan transfer was entered into Fifa's TMS system last weekend," the statement read. "But the online process was not able to be completed in time for Jones to be registered prior to the closure of the A-League registration window. NZF are working with FIFA, FFA and OFC to secure the necessary clearance."
Privately, though, the Phoenix are fuming at the oversight which leaves them no option but to apply to Fifa for an exemption for Jones to play for them, even though the transfer deadline was missed.
Historically, Fifa are loathe to grant such exemptions because they don't want to set a precedent for tardy administrators to take advantage of.
As a result, it's possible Jones will have to return home to England having not kicked a ball for the Phoenix.
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.