The Wellington Phoenix are hoping to attract a record crowd for their one-off game in Wellington on May 22, as the club seeks a bright spark in what has been a difficult season.
The Phoenix return home for the first time in over a year for two games at the end of the month — one in Wellington against Western United and the other in Auckland against Perth Glory — before returning to Australia for the remainder of the A-League season.
Speaking to media today, Phoenix general manager David Dome and chairman Rob Morrison said they were hoping Kiwis would come out in droves to support the club in the one-off games.
"Obviously, we're targeting now our largest ever regular season crowd [in Wellington] being the 18,000 we got back around the David Beckham game [in 2009]. We're probably over 11,000 tickets now," Dome said.
Due to being a week later on May 30, the Auckland game was a bit behind Wellington, with around five to six thousand tickets sold.
"It's been a very, very difficult season, certainly logistically, but also financially," Morrison said.
"So the opportunity to bring games back here and get some backing from supporters is really, really important for us and the club.
"We're really hoping that Wellington and Auckland will get behind us. It's a one-off chance for the fans, football supporters. It's a one-off chance to give us a hand this season."
Morrison said the club had been "financially hurt" by relocating to Australia this season and had undone a lot of the progress made in recent years.
"Last year we had really good momentum with sponsors, and the work we were doing in building the membership base. We had a financially good year running into Covid-19, then we've not gone back to square one, but it's certainly been a hit."
The duo hoped Wellingtonians would come together to form the biggest crowd in the A-League this season and watch the "exciting" Phoenix as they continue their playoff push.
However, ticket sales were not where they needed to be for that to happen.
"Going on our own internal tracking, we'd like to be further ahead than we are," Dome said.
"While it's positive, we want to get over 20,000. We want to have the biggest crowd in the A-League this season, and we're probably a little shy of where we need to be to get to that mark.
"They've [the Phoenix] been playing great football. They haven't always got the results, but they've been playing some exciting football and we're hopeful people will want to get out and support the club on that basis."
Morrison said the club planned on being back based in Wellington next season thanks to the trans-Tasman bubble and vaccination rollout.
"If we run into next year and didn't have a trans-Tasman bubble then some things have gone seriously wrong out there, and it wouldn't be just us worrying about it."