Newcastle United’s Pardew defends New Zealand trip

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ALAN Pardew’s defended Newcastle United’s decision to make a 23,000-mile round-trip to New Zealand in pre-season.

The club this week revealed it will play fixtures in Dunedin and Wellington in July.

Newcastle will take on Sydney FC in Dunedin on South Island in July 22 and Wellington Phoenix in the capital on July 26 as part of the Football United Tour 2014 which also features West Ham United.

United - who last visited New Zealand in 1985 when they played a series of tour matches against the national wide - had previously confirmed it will play in a tournament organised by German side Schalke 04 on August 2 and 3.

The high cost of travelling to New Zealand - flights cost around £1,500 - means few fans will make the journey from England.

And the wisdom of Premier League clubs who have made the journey to Australia in the past has been questioned given the toll travelling to the other side of the world can take on players.

But Newcastle manager Pardew - whose side made a gruelling 10-flight tour of the United States three years ago - believes the New Zealand tour is right for the club on AND off the pitch.

“No one could do the trip we did to America - it can’t be worse than that,” Pardew said.

“We finished fifth that year, so that doesn’t worry me.

“We’ve managed this and planned this to finest detail, this pre-season.

“We’ve done it early. We’ve had criticism in the past for not doing it early.

“The fact that it works for us commercially as well is important.

“The only downside is the mileage our fans from Newcastle need to travel, because it’s the other side of the world.

“But we’ve got the Germany one in, because that’s reachable.”

United are expected to announce more pre-season fixtures on home soil over the coming weeks, while the Under-21s’s warm-up games are also being finalised.

Newcastle played two low-key fixtures against Rio Ave and Pacos de Ferreira in Portugal last July. United toured Germany and played in a tournament in Faro, Portugal, the previous campaign.

The Football United Tour organisers and host clubs are expecting big crowds for the visit of Newcastle and West Ham.

Terry Davies, chief executive officer of Dunedin Venues said: “It is a great achievement for Forsyth Barr Stadium and Dunedin to have this calibre of football in the city.

“We’re anticipating a huge crowd will enjoy this outstanding match.”

And Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said: “The Wellington City Council is delighted to work with the Wellington Phoenix on bringing this great sporting contest to the capital.

“Our stadium’s location is ideally suited to a big match, and the beautiful game will be fully celebrated in a Football Festival for everybody.

“This spectacular event will draw football fans from around the country and across the Tasman.”