News from Wellington Phoenix
Star treatment is being prepared for 60 multi-million-dollar players who will bring a taste of World Cup football action to Wellington during their tour of the country next month – accompanied by world-wide television coverage.
“These are world class players accustomed to the adoration of fans, so we’re not being shy about how we welcome them as part of our effort to put New Zealand firmly on the world football map,” says David Dome, General Manager of the Wellington Phoenix Football Club, who has spent nearly 18 months organising the tour.
The tour involves official English Premier League pre-season trial matches of full-strength teams from Newcastle United and West Ham United football clubs in Dunedin on July 22, Auckland on July 23 and Wellington on July 26. Teams from Phoenix and former A-League champion Sydney Football Club will also play in the series.
“We think rolling out a black carpet of Kiwi hospitality is more appropriate than red,” Mr Dome said, “particularly since we are being joined in our tour preparations by a team of distinguished enterprises who will gain, in return, invaluable exposure to the British market.
More than 20 countries have snapped up TV rights for the tour.
West Ham United Managing Director Angus Kinnear said the visit of two leading English clubs to New Zealand for the first time in 29 years had caught the imagination of football supporters everywhere.
“The global TV demand for the Football United Tour has reinforced the breadth and scale of West Ham’s international fan base,” Mr Kinnear said.
“We are delighted that the passion for the competition is being shared so widely and know it will be an excellent showcase to attract new supporters and partners who are excited by the unique trajectory West Ham are following.
“The games also represent a great opportunity for our new signings to give a taste of the impact they will make on the Barclays Premier League in the coming season.”
Mr Dome said a tour of the two famous old English clubs to the bottom of the South Pacific had caused quite a stir internationally.
“There has been a lot of interest in how the A-League’s Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC will fare against the Premier League’s West Ham and Newcastle United in a part of the world primarily known for its natural beauty and rugby,” he said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase the Wellington Phoenix, the cities and the country to many millions of people from around the world.
At least one of the matches will be shown live in evening prime time in Britain. Live coverage will also go to Australia, Canada, China, France, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Malaysia, Portugal, South Africa, Thailand, the Balkan nations in South East Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
A first black carpet event for the UK players begins before they leave home, with a lamb and pinot noir barbecue being held on July 9 featuring New Zealand food and drinks at the Provenance Butchery in London’s Notting Hill run by Kiwis Tom and Guy Gibson and Erin Hurst. Tom originated and managed the iconic Gisborne Rhythm and Vines Festival in the 90s.
“All 80 travelling squad members will be provided with Welcome to New Zealand packs containing delicacies and luxuries provided by our Welcome Pack partners to give a taste of Kiwi hospitality.”
Included in the packs are Pure South lamb cuts from Alliance Group, olive oil from The Village Press, tomato sauce, peaches and baked beans from Heinz Watties, confectionery from RJ’s Liquorice in Levin, gourmet bacon and salami from the Blackball Salami Company, beer from Parrot Dog Brewery in Wellington, and Peter Yealands Wines’ gold medal sauvignon blanc.
Other Welcome Pack goods include New Zealand books provided by the New Zealand Book Council via publishers Random House, VUP, New Holland and Penguin. Kathmandu are supplying the 80 black backpacks needed to hold all the goodies.
“The packs also include DVT travel health socks from The Merino Company, essential to preserve the circulation of those star athletes,” Dome said. Also included is the July issue of Wellington’s Fishhead magazine, providing a profile of Wellington as pre-reading for the squad members ahead of the July 26 double-header there.
“Other Welcome Pack partners, Cathay Pacific Airlines and Mainfreight, have provided facilities and invaluable assistance in getting goods and personnel to Britain.
“It is a wonderful co-operative private enterprise to promote New Zealand. The goodwill of all concerned has been fantastic and I’m sure the rewards will be, too, in terms of creating a welcoming impression of New Zealand before the teams leave home.
“As for Phoenix, our greatest reward would be that all the players will be so impressed with New Zealand that they will want to come back again next year.”