After six seasons at Wellington Phoenix, in fact all six of the club's existence, Tony Lochhead will not be offered a new contract. New manager Ernie Merrick made decisions on six out of contract players, choosing not to re-sign five of them including the club's record holder for games played.
Though Merrick also released Alex Smith, Dani Sánchez, Jimmy Downey and Lucas Pantelis, Lochhead's departure is the biggest symbol of a new regime at New Zealand's sole A-League club. Combined with Ricki Herbert's resignation from the managerial position in February, Lochhead's exit brings a swift end to remnants of Wellington's original season of 2007/08. Only Vince Lia remains from that inaugural campaign while Leo Bertos, Ben Sigmund, Manny Muscat and Andrew Durante joined the team in its second season.
Smith featured forty-two times at Wellington over the past two seasons but scored just once. He has already signed on at Oakleigh Cannons under former Queensland Roar and Gold Coast United manager Miron Bleiberg in the Victorian Premier League. Sánchez made one fewer appearance for the Phoenix than did Smith in his two years, scoring seven goals, but his use of a foreign slot was too valuable for Merrick to keep the Spaniard in the fold. Downey and Pantelis were injury casualties, combining for just seven games over two seasons. Pantelis never played for Wellington after suffering a catastrophic knee injury in a pre-season game against Central Coast Mariners in 2011 immediately after his high profile move from Adelaide United.
Merrick now has just fifteen players under contract at Wellington: Lia, Bertos, Durante, Sigmund, Muscat, Paul Ifill, Michael Boxall, Benjamin Totori, Jeremy Brockie, Glen Moss, Louis Fenton, Stein Huysegems, Tyler Boyd, Cameron Lindsay and Carlos Hernández. Ian Hogg, who is out of contract, was spared release for now and will be given a chance to impress Merrick at left back during the upcoming pre-season.
Corey Gameiro will also depart the club as the terms of his loan from Fulham are complete. The 20-year-old striker who scored once in seven games for the Phoenix is hoping to sign with Sydney FC at the completion of the U20 World Cup, where he is a member of the Young Socceroos. He will not be offered a new contract at Fulham.