The Wellington Phoenix are the latest New Zealand sports team based in Australia to confirm they’re coming home this season, with the Kiwi club confirming two home games next month.
The Phoenix said in a statement today they will play the first of their two home games in Wellington against rivals Western United on May 22 before heading north to Auckland’s Eden Park to take on the Perth Glory on May 30.
In between the two fixtures, the club will be reminded of travel life though with a mid-week away game against the Western Sydney Wanderers back in Australia.
Regardless, general manager David Dome said the club is thrilled to be able to utilise the recently-established trans-Tasman bubble.
“This will be our first match in New Zealand in 14 months – that’s 433 days since we last played in front of our true home fans in this country,” said Dome.
“Our fans in Wellington, Auckland and across New Zealand deserve to see their team play live this season.”
Dome said that it will be a massive logistical effort for these matches to happen in New Zealand, involving the support of many people on both sides of the Tasman.
“The hard work has already started and we are working closely with the League, Sky Stadium, Eden Park, Ticketek, New Zealand Football (NZF), Capital Football and many other entities to target these as huge games for the club.
“And thanks must go to Western United and Perth Glory, along with the APL, for agreeing for these matches to be played in New Zealand.”
Dome added there’s also plenty of work going on in the Wellington football community to get as many fans to the game as possible, with a combined effort between the club, NZF and Capital Football to have all senior games with afternoon kick-off times rescheduled.
“Our target is at least 15,000 fans attending both these pivotal matches – making each the largest A-League crowds this season – a worthwhile target that recognises what this team has done in its re-location to Australia.
“The players and Football Operations staff have been magnificent in how they have handled the relocation, not once has anyone complained, they’ve just got on and got the job done - I hope the fans get out in support to show their appreciation for that.’’
The Phoenix are still in the hunt to reach the A-League playoffs after finding their form in the last month, heading into their next game with an unbeaten four-match streak [three wins and a draw] to sit just two points outside the playoffs cut off.
The Phoenix’s announcement comes after the Breakers confirmed earlier this week they too are using the trans-Tasman bubble to bring games home this season, meaning the Warriors are the only New Zealand sports team based in Australia yet to finalise a return home.