'It's really exciting for everyone at the Club'

West Ham United are looking forward to attracting thousands of new fans during their Football United Tour to New Zealand.

The Hammers fly to the other side of the world this week for a 12-day, 23,000-mile trip that will include two high-profile pre-season matches, open training sessions, community and fan engagement events.

Commercial Director Felicity Croft, who will join Joint-Chairman David Gold, the playing squad, backroom staff and thousands of supporters from all over the world in New Zealand, says the tour will give a massive boost to the Club's profile across Oceania and beyond.

FOOTBALL UNITED TOUR SUPPORTERS' GUIDE

"It's really exciting for everyone at the Club," Croft confirmed. "It's a long way to go but it's definitely worth it. We use the Tour as a way to develop our fan base and commercial opportunities around the world, whilst giving the team some top competition to prepare for the new season."

Croft said the Football United Tour will offer fans in the Southern Hemisphere a unique opportunity to engage with their Club as never before.

"The Tour gives New Zealand-based fans the chance to really touch and feel a Premier League club. It's the biggest league in the world and we play some excellent football over here which people from all over London and beyond get the chance to come and see live, every other week. Taking the team on tour allows our global fans to do the same.

"We're doing some really exciting things and have a large programme of events planned in the community. We are going to be talking to our fans about what they want from us and how we're going to develop content going forward that is relevant for them."

The Hammers hope their 12-day trip to the other side of the world will also attracting thousands more to join the Claret and Blue Army.
At the same time, Croft said West Ham's visit to New Zealand would also open up opportunities for the Club to work with local businesses to produce interesting and engaging content for Kiwi fans.

"We obviously have a core of fans based around London and the UK, but for a Club to grow commercially and have more money to spend on the pitch, we have to look to expand our fan base," Croft explained.

"The challenge that we and every football club has is 'How do you make a fan living in New Zealand feel just as special and important as a fan living in London who goes to every game?'. One way is to take the team on tour, while another is working with partners local to the region who can help us to activate our messaging and work with us in a relevant way for those fans living in New Zealand.

"We can create up to the minute, really relevant content for them so that they can keep on top of all the news. Not only do we want it to be news coming out of West Ham from London, but what can we learn when we go to New Zealand? Is it a different type of social media we should be using for example?

"What we need to do is bring what we learn in New Zealand back and make sure we are doing things that are relevant to the fans living there."

While modern-day football is big business, it is the sport itself and success on the pitch which is at the very heart of the Club's ambition too.

"Football is at the core of all we do and we strive for excellence. We want to win trophies and we want to make our fans proud. The sporting landscape is changing and we need to make sure we stay at the forefront of commercial development so we can compete against other clubs in the Premier League.

"It is challenging but that's what makes it exciting."

BUY YOUR FOOTBALL UNITED TOUR TICKETS I PACKAGES

Football United Tour

Wellington Phoenix v West Ham United
Wednesday 23 July 2014, 7.30pm (local time)
Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand

Sydney FC v West Ham United
Saturday 26 July 2014, 2pm (local time)
Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand

Football United Tour