Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Soccer: EPL clash nailed

The Phoenix will host Winston Reid's West Ham, with a potential Newcastle visit also on the cards, writes Michael Burgess

All Whites captain Winston Reid looks set to return to his homeland with his club team. Photo / Getty Images
All Whites captain Winston Reid looks set to return to his homeland with his club team. Photo / Getty Images

The Wellington Phoenix will face a Premier League team in July - and there is a possibility of a second English team also visiting these shores.

After protracted negotiations, which began in early 2013, the Herald on Sunday has learnt that West Ham have confirmed they will visit New Zealand as part of their pre-season preparations.

The Hammers are likely to play one game in Wellington, with the possibility of an additional match in Auckland or Dunedin.

The London team will be the first top-flight English side to play in New Zealand since league champions Everton faced Auckland and Canterbury at the end of the 1986-1987 season.

There is also the possibility of a second EPL team - believed to be Newcastle - coming to New Zealand. If the Magpies visit goes ahead, they would face the Phoenix as well as an Australian team - most likely Sydney FC - with both games to be staged in this country.

The matches would represent a significant coup for the Phoenix and New Zealand Football. Premier League clubs, especially those with long, established reputations, are in demand all over the world. Asia is the most popular destination but almost every top Premier League side has also visited North America in recent years.

The super clubs - both Manchester teams, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - command in excess of $1 million in appearance fees alone. Then there is return airfares and accommodation for up to 50 players and staff, as well as all the other costs associated with such a visit.

West Ham feature All Whites captain Winston Reid as well as England striker Andy Carroll.

Aside from Everton in the 1980s, other top British teams to have played in New Zealand include Sunderland, Norwich, Glasgow Rangers, Watford and Manchester United.

- Herald on Sunday

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