World Cup appearance propels NZ surplus

WELLINGTON - New Zealand's football governing body recorded a record budget surplus of NZ$7.7 million ($6.2 million) in 2010, boosted by prize money from the All Whites' appearance at the World Cup finals in South Africa.

The surplus, up from NZ$1.35 million the previous year, would provide a good platform for the game's growth, New Zealand Football Chairman Frank van Hattum said on the governing body's website on Wednesday.

"Last year was a high-tide mark in terms of income but it equips us to take advantage of the opportunity our increased profile and the current goodwill towards the game offers us," he said.

Football plays second-fiddle by some distance to rugby, which remains a national obsession, but the round-ball game was given a shot in the arm by the All Whites' first World Cup qualification since 1982.

The Ricki Herbert-coached team came away unbeaten after three draws in the group stage in South Africa, and while it was not enough to take them into the knockout phase the All Whites received a hero's welcome on their return.

Van Hattum said the surplus had already been re-invested, and cited a NZ$4 million foundation set up to fund grass-roots development and a NZ$2.5 million chest established to help finance the national and age-group teams' international schedules.

The initiatives would help ensure New Zealand remained competitive, while shedding the local game's reliance upon tournament prize money, added Van Hattum.

"It's also a key sign, and there are many, that we are not doomed to repeat the mistakes of 1982 and lose the opportunity the game had," he said.