NZF signs its biggest sponsorship deal

New Zealand Football today announced a multi-million-dollar sponsorship deal described as the biggest in the history of the sport in this country.

The five-year partnership with ASB is aimed at all levels of the game, including children's and women's soccer, referees and domestic competitions, with the New Zealand Football Championship being renamed the ASB Premiership.

While no exact figure was given for the value of the sponsorship, NZF chairman Frank van Hattum said it was the most significant secured for soccer and "massively" bigger than any previous deal.

He said it would allow for certainty in planning, which had always been an issue in the past.

"Year in, year out, there are a lot of good ideas, but there's never enough money to put the coaches on the ground, to put the programmes in place, to keep the material alive and really follow it through," he said.

"This here is a significant step in saying we have a long-term plan for training kids and getting them better skilled, and administrators and referees."

ASB chief executive Charles Pink, an Englishman and an Everton fan, said he had a personal passion for the partnership, having been a life-long football supporter.

While the bank would also be the naming rights sponsor for the All Whites' home internationals against Honduras and Paraguay next month, the focus was on the grass roots and he expected the partnership to be extended.

"There might be some temptation to see this as short-term World Cup fervour," he said.

"This is a five-year programme. I hope plus-plus over time. Most of our partnerships are over decades. This is something we starting talking to New Zealand Football about long before the World Cup. We are in there for the long term."

Under the deal, ASB will be the principal sponsor of NZF's grass roots football programmes.

As part of the NZF's youth programme, the bank will also work with other partners in supporting the Small Whites initiative.

In addition to the Premiership, it will sponsor the Chatham Cup, the National Youth League, the National Women's Youth League and the Women's Knockout Cup.

NZPA