Blog: Sticky Toffees and selling Wellington

Securing a game against Everton is proving difficult, but things are progressing well on the recruiting front. Wellington Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata tells more in his second blog from the United Kingdom.

GIVEN the incredible and somewhat unexpected amount of interest from football fans in the idea of Wellington Phoenix FC bringing Premier League club Everton to the capital for a pre-season exhibition match, it is with no small amount of regret that I must tell you that it now seems unlikely to go ahead.

It-s not for the want of hard work and desire from both parties to make the event happen – rather it-s a problem with timing.

I met with officials from Everton to see if we could structure a deal for the visit but it became clear that the need to push the matter ahead quickly would make things extremely difficult. The major sticking point is that Everton are yet to finalise their pre-season planning in terms of dates and, indeed, where they want to go. Because of this they are unable to make a firm commitment to any visit. From our point of view, this is significant given that it would be difficult to get them to Wellington within the required timeframe to suit us.

Our 2009 Pre-Season Cup campaign gets under way on July 18 and to complete all the necessary planning to schedule a tour by Everton well before that would be difficult, if not impossible. It seems apparent that any visit by Everton down-under will be unlikely.

I know this will be massively disappointing for fans. However, I-ll continue to see if we can push things along and with a bit of luck and work the situation may improve.

In the meantime, Ricki Herbert and I continue our efforts to sign to strikers here in the United Kingdom.

The last few days have seen us watching potential players in action and meeting with them and their families. As I mentioned in my previous blog, one of the most important factors in signing players, apart from their on-field ability, is getting to understand them as people. It is imperative that any player we bring back to Wellington fits into the club environment and understands the philosophy behind what we do. We do not want a player – however talented – who is a disruptive influence in the changing room. We have worked hard to successfully establish a culture in this club that is built on camaraderie, team spirit and unity.

Many fans are desperate for deals to be made, but there must be the understanding that these things do take time. We will not be rushed into making decisions. We must be certain that any player we sign can do the job for us and will fit into the club and the city. Ricki and I began this process some three months ago. We identified targets and spoke to them well before we departed for the United Kingdom, discussing such matters as payment and benefits. This means that all parties are “on the same page” and will assist is speeding up the signing process.

Selling the Phoenix and Wellington to potential players is also a key issue. We know Wellington is a superb city to live and work in. The lifestyle is fantastic and that is a key selling point. We want players who see the benefit of this and who are also able to commit 100% to the Phoenix. The Hyundai A-League is getting good recognition in the United Kingdom and most players over here are aware of the standard and what is required for success.

I am very confident that the work the club has put in during the past few months will see us achieve the recruiting goals we have set. We are close to signing both the strikers we require. As much as I-d love to name names, secrecy at this point is essential. We learned this the hard way with the Joel Porter saga last season.

The final week of our visit will now be used to further advance promising negotiations and to get those important signatures.

Watch this space.

Yours in football,

Tony Pignata