5 Feb 2009

Phoenix defend Smeltz issues

2:08 pm on 5 February 2009

The Wellington Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata has hit back at claims the A-League football club is trying to cash in on Shane Smeltz by agreeing to let the newly-crowned footballer of the year move to Turkey.

Smeltz has signed a two-year deal with Gold Coast United for the next two A-League seasons, but is contracted with the Phoenix until March 31st and now wants to move to Turkish side Hacettepe SK.

Gold Coast have maintained they will not release the 27-year-old New Zealand international, who led the A-League scoring charts with 12 goals this season, from his contract despite being entitled to a transfer fee.

Pignata says Smeltz wanted them to pursue an option of going to Turkey and they were doing what he asked.

The Phoenix had been criticised by Gold Coast and Smeltz's agent that they were trying to cash in on a transfer fee.

Pignata says they weren't going to get a massive transfer fee at all for Smeltz - less than six figures - and all they did was everything the player wanted them to do.

Pignata says it now appears Smeltz can't get out the contract with the Gold Coast and has to stay there.