Statement from Wellington Phoenix

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Wellington Phoenix would like to update its fanbase on the recent situation regarding Steven Taylor’s retirement from professional football, and subsequent comments he made to selected media regarding the Club.

As per the Club’s original statement posted on Tue 28 September to announce Taylor’s retirement, the Club appreciates Taylor’s contribution – as a leader, a tactician and a player - over the past three seasons, and respects his decision to retire for the reasons which Taylor stated to Coach Ufuk Talay and GM David Dome; a desire to see family in the UK and the recent effects of quarantining due to Covid.

While the Club does not want to take anything away from Taylor’s legacy with the Club and his popularity as a member of the Wellington Phoenix, it also reserves the right to respond to statements he has recently made to media.

At a media stand-up this morning, General Manager David Dome and Coach Ufuk Talay addressed the media to clarify the club’s position, in order to assure fans that the Club has done its absolute best during a difficult situation.

Wellington Phoenix General Manager, David Dome, says that the Taylor retirement – and subsequent situation – came as a surprise to him, and he needed time to think about what was the best thing for the player and the Club.

“I rang Tayls [on the day of his retirement] to thank him for his services to us as a football club, and he expressed to me his great thanks to me and the Chairman for everything we did over a particularly difficult time with [Covid],” says Dome.

The Club prides itself on how we handle staff and players, and we did our very best over that window to look after its people during that period; and Tayls expressed that back to me, how extremely thankful he was for that.

“So I’m very conscious of the fact that as a Club, we want to respect that legacy that he had as a player; the way he loved this Club and he loved this city.

“But at the same time I have to stand up for the Club and for the staff who have worked so hard for this football club over the past 18 months; and to have some of our integrity questioned was particularly hurtful for me, the Chairman and others in the Club.”

Wellington Phoenix Head Coach Ufuk Talay, says that he is strongly of the belief – based on conversations with Taylor and his relationship with his former Captain – that Taylor would never have seen through a two-year contract if he had requested and received one from the Club.

“I don’t think him [Taylor] saying he had a two-year deal was ever going to change his decision [to retire]; the way I look at it is that people look at what they don’t have, and for me you’ve got to look at what you have,” says Talay.

“And the thing was, when [Taylor] initially signed his extension [in 2019] we actually gave him a two-year deal; in-between that he then approached the Club to ask if it was possible for him to leave to earn a bigger contract in India – we gave him that opportunity, and when he came back [in Feb 2021] we continued his contract that we had given him initially.

“So the decision was never around a [new] two-year deal with [Taylor}, I never had that discussion around a two-year deal with him, and I don’t think it would’ve changed his decision to retire – because the conversation I had with him were around him going back home to see his father and being close to his family.”

 

The Key Facts

  • Prior to signing a two-year contract extension in Dec 2019, Taylor held several one-on-one meetings with Club Chairman Rob Morrison where his post-football future was discussed. Taylor made it clear in these meetings that he wanted to remain long term in Wellington and he wanted the Phoenix to be the last Club he played for. In turn, Morrison told him the Club would invest in his future with coaching or management courses and would provide him with opportunities to work with youth in a Club capacity, which Taylor was passionate about. 
  • Taylor signed this two-year contract extension for the 20/21 and 21/22 seasons; then Covid hit and Taylor received an offer from an Indian-based Club to play there which would be financially beneficial for him. The Club reluctantly agrees to a contract termination. 
  • February 2021, Taylor approached the club and ask to return. The club re-signs the player again for the remainder of the 21/22 A-League season.
  • The club extends his contract in June 2021 with a view to reviewing at the end of the season, with either a further extension or a transition into a management role within the Club.
  • Following two stints in quarantine, Taylor then contacts Club Chairman Rob Morrison. In this meeting, Taylor requests a release for two reasons; to see his father in the UK and because he didn’t want to quarantine again in Australia. There is no mention made of any dissatisfaction with the Club or contract length.
  • On Mon 27 September, Taylor requests a meeting with Coach Talay where he advises that he is retiring, effective immediately. He agrees to a statement being made and meets with GM David Dome to thank him for his support of him and the players during this time. Again there is no mention made of any dissatisfaction with the Club.
  • Week commencing 27 September, the player independently approached media to discuss his retirement and raises contract length as a reason for his departure.

 

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