24 Feb 2019

Rudan furious at Phoenix home game switch

1:31 pm on 24 February 2019

Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan has hit out at the club's decision to host a game in Campbelltown, saying the club's hierarchy had "no confidence" in having a strong season.

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan

Phoenix coach Mark Rudan Photo: Photosport

The Phoenix lost 1-0 to Sydney FC at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday after being forced to move their home A-League fixture due to the Maori Kapa Haka festival 'Te Matatini ki te Ao'.

At the time of the decision, Wellington general manager David Dome said that none of the home alternatives would meet their average attendance metric.

The loss means the sixth-placed Phoenix sit just six points clear of Newcastle with seven games remaining in the season.

"I made it quite clear to the football club how I felt about playing in Sydney, which should have been a home game for us," Rudan said.

"I also said, 'It better not come back to bite us as well'.

"Put it this way: I didn't think the club thought, or had the confidence, that we would have the season that we're having at the start of the season when they made that decision."

The meagre 5115 crowd - who were mainly Sky Blues fans - was well below Wellington's 8586 average at Westpac Stadium.

And it also came just a week after the New Zealand outfit's match against Melbourne Victory last week drew a huge crowd at Eden Park, which was understood to be available.

"We had almost 23,000 at Eden Park last week. We could've played there again today," Rudan said.

"But I don't think they had the confidence or the trust in my players and my coaching staff to have played (well) and found an alternative in New Zealand.

"Because they were alternatives."

Compounding the bizarre decision to shift their home game into their opposition's backyard was the condition of the surface.

After training at Campbelltown on Friday, Rudan feared for the players' safety.

"Players' welfare is important as well. It was the first time anyone had played on that surface as well, from my understanding," Rudan said.

"There wasn't enough time for the grass to be laid for us to play."

In a further twist of the knife, Rudan is resigned to losing defender Dylan Fox for the rest of the season after he was stretchered off with a knee injury.

"I'm concerned about him. From my understanding it's a six to eight week injury. So effectively that's his season," Rudan said.

"The kid's waited awfully long for his chance. Been working extremely hard. Finally gets it. (But) that's football."