English Premier League clubs West Ham United and Newcastle United will take part in a ground-breaking double header with A-League clubs Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC in July.
The Phoenix will make history when they host the two EPL sides in New Zealand for the first time in the Football United Tour.
In a football extravaganza that will span the length of the country, sports fans will be able to experience a football event never seen before in this part of the world.
The EPL clubs will play two exhibition matches at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on July 26 in matches arranged by the Phoenix and Wellington City Council.
Auckland and Dunedin will share in the football feast featuring the Hammers and the Magpies at Eden Park and Forsyth Barr Stadium.
It will be the first time in the Southern Hemisphere that two English Premier League clubs have played on the same ground on the same day against different opposition.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is looking forward to bringing a team to New Zealand for the first time in his career.
“We’ve been busy putting together the best pre-season preparation that I’ve had, and it’s great that we’re able to go to New Zealand as a key part of that,” Allardyce said.
“The tournament in New Zealand is particularly interesting, as it allows us to promote West Ham United and the Premier League over there.
“It’ll be great for our fans in the region to see us play.”
Newcastle United manager, Alan Pardew, said: “We are very much looking forward to being part of the Football United Tour and to training and playing at first class facilities in Dunedin and Wellington.
“Football has grown impressively in both New Zealand and Australia in recent years, with some excellent players and teams coming to the fore, so the Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC fixtures will provide a good test for our players as we prepare them for next season.”
Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata said the tour would be an important part of the Sky Blues pre-season preparations.
“It is fantastic that the Phoenix is putting on this event and that Sydney FC has been asked to take part,” Pignata said.
“Playing against two strong EPL sides will be a great experience for our players and will be an important part of our pre-season programme.
“You don’t often get the opportunity to have games against such quality opposition leading into the season.”
No one is looking forward to the tour more than All Whites captain and West Ham defender Winston Reid.
The Kiwi international said: “I’m really excited to be bringing West Ham to New Zealand in July to play a bit of footy in the Football United Tour and show them how we do things in New Zealand.
“New Zealand is a beautiful country full of great people and I’m sure all the West Ham players, staff and supporters who make the trip will have a fantastic time.
“Football is really on the up in both New Zealand and Australia and we are all looking forward to meeting all the fans and playing exciting matches against two leading Hyundai A-League clubs.”
Tickets for the Auckland and Wellington games go on sale to Phoenix members from today and on public sale from May 19. Dunedin will be on sale May 21.
Pre-sale tickets to the Sydney FC members area go on sale May 16.
Newcastle United v Sydney FC
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Tuesday July 22, 7.30pm
Wellington Phoenix v West Ham United
Eden Park, Auckland, Wednesday July 23, 7.30pm
Sydney FC v West Ham United
Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle United
Westpac Stadium Wellington, July 26. Kick off times to be confirmed.