14 Nov 2013

Huge payday within tantalising reach

6:42 am on 14 November 2013

While it seems unlikely, if the All Whites can get past Mexico over the next six days to reach their second straight FIFA World Cup, New Zealand Football is poised to take home the biggest cash dividend in its 122-year history - $17 million.

The national body didn't trumpet its recent sale of the rights to this morning's game to a Mexican company for a reported $5 million recently, and perhaps surprisingly for having the game-changing sum of another $12 million within reach, football bosses say they have no fixed plans on how they might spend it.

NZ Football landed a $10 million nest egg from reaching the South Africa World Cup and the organisation says it's satisfied with the investments they've made in development structures from their last big payday four years ago.

New Zealand Football acting chief executive Mark Aspden says the board's had an initial discussion about the prospect of another bumper payday but has no specific projects in mind should the All Whites do the business.

Aspden says no matter what decision you make, there will be someone who says, 'Well, it would be better if you spent money in this area."'

But Aspden says there are no guarantees that a $17 million purse - which will total $11 million after player payments - would change NZF's controversial stance on its pay to play model for junior national representatives in the country.

Any big payday would be in stark contrast to NZF's darkest days in early 2008, when the national body faced an $800,000 deficit and relied upon bankers for its survival, thanks to a cancelled All Whites-Fiji World Cup qualifier the year before and an exceptionally poor gate for a game against Vanuatu in Wellington.

NZ Football spends a quarter of a million dollar bi-annual cost for competing at youth World Cups, which their teams stroll into, with no serious challengers at Oceania level since Australia left the confederation in 2006.

NZF also set up a fund in 2010 that contributed $2.5 million towards an international programme that included teams that competed at the London Olympics, OFC Nations Cup, age-group World Cups and other internationals.

But perhaps New Zealand's biggest benefactor was its Whole of Football plan launched in 2010, which has been adopted as the blueprint for the development and growth of the game at grassroots level.

Over $3 million has been thrown annually (in non-World Cup years) at the five-to-10-year plan, which focuses on primary and intermediate age children in the belief that a quality experience at this level will lead to a lifelong love for the game.

Launching Whole of Football not only gave NZF a development programme benchmarked on world-leading football associations, it also gave it a product that sponsors were interested in. Government funder Sparc also came to the party, contributing $760,000 annually for the first three years.