The latest and greatest A-League star to exit to the Indian Super League, Wellington Phoenix's Steven Taylor, says COVID cutbacks spoiled his A-League career.
The star captain was arguably the most instrumental figure in Wellington's entire club resurgence, joining the team under Mark Rudan and then leading it to its best ever finish under Ufuk Talay.
He told Stuff that while he loved his time in New Zealand, recently signing a two-year extension that would have seen him retire at the Nix, COVID turned a dream into a nightmare.
“Covid spoiled it,” Taylor said. “I absolutely loved it but Covid has not helped and speaking to the gaffer, I just said to him that it is a nightmare situation. If Covid hadn’t happened and all the [pay] cuts, I would still be there now.
“The uncertainty, and even now still things are not getting sorted out and it is frustrating. I never thought this would happen.
“At 34 I want to know that I can continue [playing], that I have got the security, but at the moment no-one is giving me answers. I am asking when is the season going to start?"
“No-one was giving me answers, there was nobody who could tell me ‘this is what is happening’. I can’t waste time, I want to be playing and it is as simple as that. I wish there wasn't this uncertainty but unfortunately that is all there is.
“I honestly saw myself finishing my career there but how can I do that when I am not guaranteed to be playing football?”
Players across the A-League currently face uncertain futures and possible stand-downs with the PFA rejecting the A-League clubs' new CBA deal.
Facing wage cuts of up to 30%, a growing A-League exodus abroad is finding India an easy destination. ISL club finances have remained secure despite a far heavier COVID toll due to a solid broadcast relationship with large audience growth each season.
Taylor has reportedly signed for ISL club Odisha FC, joining Perth Glory defender Jacob Tratt. He becomes the latest A-League player after Joel Chianese and fellow Nix import Gary Hooper.
Adam Le Fondre and Bradden Inman have also been rumoured with ISL exits.