Wellington Phoenix Coach Ufuk Talay has slammed Perth Glory for their opposition to travelling to New Zealand next month.
On Friday, the Phoenix confirmed they will host two home games in the final four rounds of the season against Western United and the Glory.
The fixture against Western United is all but certain to be at Sky Stadium in Wellington on May 22, but the venue for the match against Perth is yet to be determined.
The main issue holding up its confirmation is the Glory's open refusal to travel to New Zealand.
"We're scheduled to play Phoenix away but we have reiterated to them that we don’t want to travel to Wellington," Perth Glory chief executive Tony Pignata said on Friday.
"We believe we've had our fair share of travel and I’m confident we’ll play that game in Wollongong but let’s wait and see."
That stance has struck a nerve with Talay, whose team hasn't played in the capital in over 400 days due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Their last home game was a 3-0 win against the Melbourne Victory back in May 2020."I think it's very disappointing to be honest," Talay says. "We've been here since November to play in the competition and at the same time, we play with no home fans.
"We've waited a long time for this to happen and an opportunity has arisen to play a couple of home games back in New Zealand."
There has been no such issue with the match against Western United, with their coach Mark Rudan in full support of coming across the Tasman.
"The Wellington faithful deserve a home game or two and so does that football club," says Rudan, who was head coach of the Phoenix in the 2018/19 season.
"The players have done it extremely tough and the staff as well. If they get the opportunity to play back in New Zealand they should have it.
"If that means against us it means against us I have no issues with it. You've got to be fair and like I said I take my hat off to everybody at that football club and I feel for the fans who are the most important.
"I know how great they are and how much they get behind their team and that is something they have missed all season."
Some players have had a timely boost, with partners and family travelling across the ditch since the trans-Tasman travel bubble opened last week.
"It's been tough and it's not just the players, we've got staff here that have their families still back in New Zealand," adds Talay.
"It hasn't been an easy journey for them but everyone is doing their best.
"It's always a boost when family come and you have the family support. That's why it's so important for us to be able to come back to New Zealand and play those two games."
The Phoenix host Adelaide United on for the first time this season on Anzac Day in what could be the final game at their temporary home, WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
It's an important match for the 'Nix as they sit in ninth place three points outside the playoff spots with only eight games.