By Andrew McGoff
Whilst enjoying the excitement as Wellington Phoenix and Liverpool start to focus on their final games of their seasons my mind drifts towards who the Phoenix have secured from the Premier League for a pre-season friendly.
Below is my theory on who will be coming based on what has been said by David Dome (Nix GM), who has released their preseason schedules, an assumption that teams would not tour both the US and Asia given the WC finishes on July 13th and the EPL season starts first weekend of August, that teams will contractually need to bring their full squad, and the word on the street…
What have we been told?
An announcement is due any day now. And it looks as if it is happening.
David Dome has been quoted as saying:
“When we looked at the options, the top-four are prohibitive due to cost, and then there’s the next tier of quality, famous English clubs. West Ham’s one of those. You discount the Johnny-come-latelies in the EPL; Southampton, Norwich, Stoke, are probably not going to draw crowds in New Zealand. But that group in the middle we think are financially an option for us, and would draw a big enough crowd to be interesting.”
Dome says the fact All Whites captain Winston Reid plays for West Ham gives them increased pulling power to get something confirmed.
What teams are in the mix?
The Nix must be targeting top 10 teams as it’s the only way to ensure a big crowd turns up both in Auckland and Wellington.
This MUST work otherwise it will be a costly mistake. To guarantee ticket sales the Phoenix may do what Melbourne Victory did with Liverpool and ensure that the contract states the visiting team must bring their full squad. I heard that for the Man Utd v A-League All Stars game that Man Utd had to play their top players for part of the game.
The top 10 in the Premier League currently are:
Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham, Manchester Utd, Everton, Newcastle, Southampton and West Ham.
Dome effectively says we should be discounting top 4 sides, and Southampton who are considered a ‘Johnny-come-lately’ side.
Who in the Top 10 has pre-season tours announced for 2014?
- Chelsea – Unannounced but discounted as top 4
- Liverpool – Touring the US, will be part of the International Champions Cup
- Arsenal – 2 games in US before returning for Emirates Cup in London
- Manchester City – Touring the US, also as part of the International Champions Cup
- Tottenham – 2 games announced in US before end of July
- Manchester Utd – Touring the US, will be part of International Champions Cup
- Everton – Unannounced
- Newcastle – Unannounced
- Southampton – discounted as considered a ‘johnny come lately’ side
- West Ham – Unannounced
Who we can expect to tour?
If we assume that in a WC year teams won’t tour throughout the US and Asia then Everton, Newcastle and West Ham are the teams that the Nix could play.
All the noise in the media has been that West Ham will tour. The obvious link comes from All Whites captain Winston Reid playing for them, which would help make them marketable here.
Everton have toured New Zealand before, in 1987, and in 2010 they played 3 teams in Australia.
It appears Newcastle hasn’t toured either NZ or Australia before.
In order to be financially viable the Nix need to get 2 teams out here; not the one club that has been previously reported / rumoured. They can do this either by piggy backing off a planned Australian tour, or by playing a tournament that involves 2 EPL teams and 1 Hyundai a-league side to split costs with.
I understand the Nix will go with the ‘Tournament’ option.
If this format was adopted it would likely see one EPL side play an Australian based a-league side in Australia, whilst the other played the Nix in Auckland. Then there would either be a second game where the EPL teams swapped places and played the Nix in Wellington, or if it was a finals format there could be a ‘final’ in Wellington and a 3rd v 4th Playoff. I’d suggest there may well be a ‘final’ and the reason I suggest it’d be played in Wellington is because it’s the home of the Nix.
So who will it be…
I’ve heard a few theories and rumours over the last few weeks:
- It will be West Ham and Newcastle as they won’t make the Europa League
- It won’t be Everton because they will be hit hard by players going to the WC
- It will be Everton as fans on their forums discuss it as being them
- It will be Tottenham as there were rumours last season that they were to tour but that it fell through
- I was also told West Ham is definitely out of the mix, Newcastle and 1 other are coming
I could firmly sit on the fence on this one and leave it as those 3 aforementioned teams, but that would be no fun, so I’m going to go with West Ham and Newcastle.
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