Search on for van Hattum's successor at NZF

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2014
Frank van Hattum
ALL OVER: New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum has quit after almost six years in the job.

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No clearcut candidate has emerged to take over from Frank van Hattum as New Zealand Football chairman with deputy Bill Moran unlikely to step up to the role.

Van Hattum said yesterday he would vacate the chair next month after 5 1/2 years at the helm.

The former All Whites goalkeeper, a senior executive and director at a global oil company, said increased business commitments since last year's Wellington earthquake, meant he no longer had time to do justice to the NZF role.

Van Hattum will remain on the board until the NZF congress in May, but a new chairperson will be elected next month.

Moran, a senior Treasury official, has been van Hattum's deputy since 2011 and is also the chairman of the local organising committee for the 2015 Fifa World Cup tournament which will be held in New Zealand.

"Bill and I have discussed succession planning, and he's not likely to be there next year, [either]. He's got a big task with the under-20 World Cup board," van Hattum said.

He said there were "some other good candidates" on the NZF board. "We will see what happens in February."

Other board members include acting chief executive Mark Aspden, former Netball New Zealand chief executive Shelley McMeeken and Paula Kearns, another former interim chief executive, Paul Cochrane, Martin Fenwick, a northern premier league referee, former southern league player Dougal McGowan and Mike Anderson, the co-opted chair of the Northern Football federation board.

Van Hattum, 55, said some people might be surprised he was stepping down with the 2015 under-20 World Cup approaching, a new chief executive - the fourth of his tenure - due to start in March and the finances back in the black after NZF was "technically insolvent" when he took on the job.

But he is overseeing a head office shift from Wellington to Auckland and said his commitments with BP meant he was too busy for what could "be at times a fulltime job" as NZF chair.

Van Hattum's decision marks the end of an era in New Zealand football with Ricki Herbert, his 1982 World Cup squad team-mate, also stepping down as All Whites coach after the team crashed out of the World Cup intercontinental playoff series with Mexico, 9-3, last November.

After 50 years in football, van Hattum said he would still be involved in the game."But I've done my bit after 14 years in football administration."

He began as the inaugural chair of the Capital Football Federation in 2000 and plans to "transition out" of his roles on the 2015 World Cup organising committee, the Oceania Football Confederation executive committee and the New Zealand Football Foundation's trustee.

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Van Hattum had his critics within the game for being too hands-on as chairman and getting involved in management rather than governance issues.

But he made no apologies yesterday, saying there were times the board had to be hands-on because of the issues facing the sport.

Criticism was part of sport, he said. "You can react to every bit of it, but it's just someone's opinion. That doesn't make it right and it doesn't make it's wrong. If it can help in being better, then all well and good."

Van Hattum was proud NZF was now posting surpluses after coming perilously close to insolvency in 2007. The budget had gone from "$4 [million] to $5 million" then, to $10 million today, which "shows how much the game has grown".

NZF is set to record another profit for the 2013 financial year and van Hattum said the sound fiscal position would allow the new chairman and chief executive to plan and deliver "with certainty".

His other "moments of magic" have included seeing the All Whites qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals, watching the Football Ferns rise up the rankings to 16th in the world, implementing the Whole of Football Plan, being part of 16,000 fans at the under-17 women's World Cup tournament final in New Zealand in 2008, the introduction of futsal, the sport's indoor version, and seeing the introduction of the New Zealand Football Foundation, a $4 million independent endowment fund.

"The sport is more aligned than it's ever been and it's pleasing to see our federations developing and performing, while we have a robust and innovative strategic plan setting a unified direction."

Van Hattum's term on the board ends in 2015, but he is leaving a year early. As an elected board member, he said it seemed timely to stand down at the May congress and allow new blood to come in.

- Fairfax Media

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