$750,000 price tag for football double-header

ENGAGING: Wellington Phoenix's Vince Lia fends off Melbourne Victory FC's Guilheme Finkler at Westpac Stadium in April.
ENGAGING: Wellington Phoenix's Vince Lia fends off Melbourne Victory FC's Guilheme Finkler at Westpac Stadium in April.

Wellington City Council had to stump up about $750,000 to ensure next month's football fixture involving two English Premier League clubs did not go to Auckland.

A source said the funding, from the council's economic development fund, was vital in ensuring the double-header fixture, involving West Ham, Newcastle United, the Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC, was played at Westpac Stadium on July 26. A primary reason the funding was required was the high match fees charged by the English clubs.

City council spokesman Richard MacLean disputed the $750,000 figure but would not give an alternative amount, citing commercial sensitivity.

"We considered the double-header as the most attractive proposition in terms of return on any investment - and ticket sales to date tend to back this up."

The Wellington fixture is the final game of the four-match Football United Tour.

As of yesterday morning, 23,000 tickets had been sold.

About 10,000 tickets have been snapped up for the Phoenix vs West Ham game in Auckland and 6300 for the Newcastle v Sydney clash in Dunedin.

The council's economic development fund has between $1 million and $1.3m available a year, which comes from a downtown levy imposed on businesses in the CBD.

MacLean said the council's funding was to be used exclusively for the Wellington event.

The council typically expects a return of $20 for every dollar it invests in events, but MacLean said that was based on returns across a portfolio of events.

"In saying that, our analysis of the event shows that it should provide a significant economic impact in a traditionally quiet period of the year."

Wellington Phoenix chief executive David Dome confirmed the council had made a financial contribution.

"The basis of contribution is the economic value-add that a sold-out, or close to sold-out, Westpac Stadium is worth to the local economy, as well as the international promotion the city will receive from hosting two English Premier League sides on the same day.

"The [TV coverage of the] tour has been sold internationally to many territories around the world, and it's estimated that millions will see the broadcast," he said.

"Without WCC's support, the tour would not have had the political will required to make the whole thing work."

The Dominion Post