Michael McGlinchey should be playing his football in Gosford not Wellington next season, according to an independent arbitrator.
Wellington Phoenix will seek legal advice after the ruling in the long-running saga found in favour of the Central Coast Mariners.
McGlinchey has been training with the Phoenix as the two A-League outfits battled over the All White’s club future.
The decision comes as a blow to the 27-year-old who had the backing of the Professional Footballers Australia to play for his hometown club.
The Central Coast Mariners have described comments by the Phoenix and PFA in the wake of the ruling as "unhelpful".
Mariners Chairman, Michael Charlesworth, said the club remains steadfast in the belief that McGlinchey is rightfully contracted to the Central Coast.
“I’m not convinced that the PFA are now acting, as they should, in the best interests of Michael McGlinchey, the clubs, or the A-League,” Charlesworth said.
But the Phoenix released a statement on Thursday suggesting the matter was far from over.
“The arbitrator has ruled that Michael McGlinchey is contracted to Central Coast Mariners FC Pty Ltd,” the statement read.
“The Wellington Phoenix, as an interested party, will seek legal advice on this decision as it raises questions as to whether or not McGlinchey and other players have been, and are actually contracted to, the legal entity that holds the licence for the Central Coast Mariners to play in the Hyundai A-league.
“It has always been the understanding of the Wellington Phoenix that McGlinchey was free to sign a contract with the Phoenix.”
McGlinchey, contracted to the Mariners for the 2014-15 season, was on loan to Vegalta Sendai in Japan at the time other players signed revised contracts as part of the Mariners’ ownership change.
Without his signature, McGlinchey maintained he was a free agent and the PFA agreed.
The tug of war has significantly disrupted the player's pre-season build up, preventing him from playing friendlies with the Phoenix.
It has also thrown a spanner in the works for coach Ernie Merrick, who sees the midfielder as a key figure in the Kiwi club's 2014/15 campaign.
Merrick has been a vocal critic of the FFA's lengthy process, and spent time in the stands for failing to sign a code of conduct in protest over the delays.
Under FFAs Grievance Resolution Regulations the PFA has the right to appeal.
Chief Executive Adam Vivian said the issue raised far-reaching concerns about the sanctity of the A-League licensing system.
"The PFA stands by the advice given to Michael, which was based on information given in October 2013 by Football Federation Australia (FFA) that due to a change in ownership, the A-League licence of the Mariners would be transferred to a new company controlled by owner Mike Charlesworth," Vivian said.
“Under an agreement reached between the FFA and PFA all Mariners’ players were to be offered employment with the new company, and the previous Mariners’ entity would cease to operate the A-League licence. As a result, almost the entire Mariners squad has signed agreements with the new entity.
“As Michael was contracted to the previous entity, he was free to pursue his professional interests as an uncontracted player and sign a contract with a club of his choice.
“However, it only recently emerged that the entity licensed to operate the Mariners had not changed, but will do so in the near future. The reason for the failure to transfer the licence has not been satisfactorily explained to the PFA.
“The PFA is greatly concerned by the situation at the Mariners, which unnecessarily raises concerns about the sanctity of the A-League licensing system administered by FFA.
"All A-League players are entitled to know that the club which employs them is duly licensed by FFA. If not, the ability of the game to regulate itself and uphold player contracts is brought into question.
“Players have previously lost over $2.5 million in entitlements where a new entity refused to pick up player contracts on the transfer of an A-League licence. The irony of Michael’s position in light of this is not lost on the PFA and our membership.
“The PFA’s lawyers are now analysing the decision of the arbitrator to determine the next course of action. In the meantime, we reiterate our commitment to sitting down with FFA, Mr Charlesworth and all affected parties to resolve all matters across the table and to bring much needed certainty to this situation."comments