The biggest purse available to a New Zealand sports team will be on the line on Thursday night, when Auckland City FC play off for almost $1.5 million in the Fifa Club World Cup.
Auckland City take on Japanese champions Kashima Antlers in Yokohama tomorrow, with the winners to bank US$1 million ($1.43 million) as they progress to the quarter finals of the competition.
As a comparison, the winners of the NRL grand final take home $A400,000 ($417,000) while the Super Rugby champions get to keep the gate receipts from the final.
The money is almost irrelevant to the Antlers - who are the most successful football club in the history of the J-League and have an estimated annual turnover of US$100 million ($140 million) - but is massive for New Zealand football.
Since the first participation by a New Zealand club (2006), more than US$8 million ($11.23 million) has flowed into the coffers of the local game.
Around half the prize money goes to the participating New Zealand franchise (Auckland City on seven occasions and Waitakere United in 2007 and 2008) with the rest split between the remaining Stirling Sport Premiership teams, with a percentage also going to New Zealand Football.
That money has been significant for the smaller New Zealand teams, who have banked around $500,00 from the tournament across the last decade. It's a vital boost, as such clubs face annual costs of between $200,000-$300,000 to participate in the Stirling Sports Premiership and have almost negligible returns from ticket sales.
Indeed, the impact of the Club World Cup money was best shown in the 2010-2011 domestic season. Hekari United of Papua New Guinea were the surprise Oceania representative in the 2010 Club World Cup and several New Zealand clubs felt the hit the following season, without the Fifa prize money flowing into the sport.
Whatever the result, Auckland City are already guaranteed US$500,000 ($702,000) from Thursday night's match, which represents the prize money for seventh place at the tournament. If they manage to cause a major boil over and beat Kashima, they will earn a minimum US$1 million from the tournament, as prize money increases with each progression.
Fifa Club World riches:
- Guaranteed prize money before Thursday's game: $US500,000
- Guaranteed prize money if Auckland City beat Kashima Antlers: $US1 million
- Total prize money earned by New Zealand clubs at Club World Cup, 2006-2009, 2011-2015: $US 8 million