The Wellington Phoenix have pulled out of the race to sign Archie Thompson. The A-League’s all-time leading goal scorer is off contract with the Melbourne Victory and looking for one final season in the competition. Phoenix is understood to have set Thompson a deadline of last Sunday to decide on a one-year $200,000 deal.
Australian media outlets reported that Thompson was set to join his old Victory coach, Ernie Merrick, at the Phoenix on a one-year deal but Merrick has confirmed to the clubs’ fans that Thompson won’t be playing out his career at Westpac Stadium.
The Phoenix are in the market for a striker of Thompson’s pedigree, but are passing on the man himself. “I really believe that Archie, who started his A-League career at the Victory in season one and has been there 10 years and become the highest goal scorer ever in the competition, should stay there and end his career there,” Merrick said.
Merrick and Thompson are friends and would work well together. That’s prompted reports in Australia that the former Socceroo is Wellington bound, but Merrick’s playing it down.
“Although it would be nice to have him at Wellington Phoenix, I’m not sure it would really work. He’s no doubt still a tremendous player but, being a legend at the club he started with, he should end his playing days there and I’m sure he can come to some sort of terms with the Melbourne Victory.”
Merrick revealed on Wednesday night that Thompson’s offer was off the table, leaving a switch to Asia as his only live alternative to remaining at Victory. Victory negotiations have been delayed by title-winning celebrations and the slow progress of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“We’re not making any more moves to sign him, in fact I’m making a point of moving in a different direction,” Merrick said. “We’re pulling out. I can categorically state that we won’t sign him and I think Victory fans would appreciate that.”
Phoenix will continue its search for a striker, with Johnny Warren medalist Nathan Burns attracting interest from abroad. The club find that Asia and the Middle East were cashed up and ready to buy.
Merrick’s certainty in the quality that already exists in this country was only enhanced by what the Phoenix did at the recent Hong Kong Sevens. After beating English Premier League club Aston Villa 4-1 in pool play, the Phoenix’s title charge only came to an end in a semifinal against Spanish giants Atletico Madrid.