Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Another blow for New Zealand Football

Wellington's Bill Robertson holds the ASB Premiership trophy aloft. Photo / Photosport
Wellington's Bill Robertson holds the ASB Premiership trophy aloft. Photo / Photosport

New Zealand Football are set to lose their major sponsor, with ASB Bank about to end their association with the national body after more than five years.

It's a significant blow for NZF, as the sponsorship was believed to be in the region of $500,000 per annum.

The Herald on Sunday understands the decision was made some time ago, and is not necessarily related to the series of scandals that have rocked NZF over the last nine months, but it continues a difficult period for football's governing body.

The lack of ASB monies will leave a substantial hole in NZF's income. Their budgeted sponsorship revenue for 2015, according to their financial statements, was $1.035 million.

In the 2014 financial year, NZF made an operational loss of $464,000, although a $750,000 transfer from the international teams reserve meant NZF could declare a "positive annual result" of $286,000.

ASB's original sponsorship deal was announced in the wake of the All Whites' eye-catching performances at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The bank became the first naming rights sponsors of what was formerly the New Zealand Football Championship, and also sponsored the Chatham Cup, National Youth League, National Women's Youth League and Women's Knockout Cup.

The bank were also associated with the ASB International series, which saw Honduras and Paraguay play games in Auckland and Wellington in October 2010. The All Whites have played only six times on home soil since those matches.

It's not known why ASB decided to discontinue the sponsorship, although their increased commitments in other sports may have been a factor. In August, ASB took over the naming rights of what was previously the Heineken Open tennis tournament, to go with their association with the annual women's WTA event in Auckland. And in March last year the bank announced a new three-year sponsorship of the All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby.

With the assistance of ASB, 32 games of the recently concluded ASB Premiership were broadcast live on Sky Sport. NZF will now need to find that money from somewhere else, although TV coverage will be attractive for potential new partners.

- Herald on Sunday

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