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Phoenix signing sentenced to jail

Embarrassment for the Wellington Phoenix three months out from the start of football's A-League.

Veteran midfielder Richard Johnson seems set to be cut from the playing roster after being convicted of drink driving across the Tasman. The 33 year old was arrested in Newcastle in March. The former Knights player's blood alcohol reading was four times above the legal limit, he failed to stop and was involved in a dangerous police chase. He has been sentenced to eight months in prison with a six month non parole period.

The Phoenix will not comment until Johnson's appeal is heard but a club spokesman has confirmed they will have no choice but to terminate the player's contract if his appeal fails.

All Whites keeper Mark Paston is shocked to hear of Johnson's run-in with the law, and says the news is extremely disappointing. He says he knows Johnson, having played with him at the Knights last season, and he is very surprised to hear of his convictions. Paston is currently with the All Whites in the UK as they prepare for their one-off test against Wales this weekend.

Johnson spent over a decade in England with Watford before joining the Newcastle United Jets for season one of the A-League. He then moved to New Zealand to play for the now-defunct Knights in season two.

Meanwhile, Phoenix owner Terry Serepisos is not panicking that the club has yet to fill the position of chief executive. Serepisos says the club is currently interviewing for the position and is not rushing to make the appointment. He is comfortable with the FFA's head of projects Michelle Phillips filling the role until he finds the right person. Serepisos says he has finalised his board and will make an announcement shortly.



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