Mt Smart Stadium will this weekend play host to one of if not the richest sporting occasions in the country this year when home side Waitakere United host Fijian champions Ba in the second leg of the O-League Final.
The winners will go on to represent Oceania at the FIFA World Club Championships in Japan later this year and pick up a cheque for a minimum $670,000.
Waitakere Executive Chairman Rex Dawkins says anyone not thinking of the money on such an occasion is probably lying.
“First and foremost this is an opportunity to bring wonderful international prestige and honour to Waitakere United and our 12 member clubs in West Auckland. For the players the thought of playing against the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United is reward enough in itself but along with qualification comes a significant payout to the club.
I’m not sure of any other sport that has a game scheduled here in New Zealand that is worth quite so much in straight prize money as our match on Sunday. It is certainly playing a huge part in our planning, that sort of money could do wonders for the game in our region and lay the platform for future success at all levels.”
Dawkins says the money does not all find its way into the bank account of Waitakere United if they win on Sunday, far from it. And local supporters can rest assured they or their club will see a return on their investment too but Dawkins is not getting ahead of himself.
“An arrangement is in place with New Zealand Soccer on the split of the money should it come our way – and they do get a significant cut of the money, but that is a conversation best left until after Sunday’s game.
Our 12 member clubs have supported us in so many ways throughout the past three years and we are conscious that we do in fact represent a region and not just one club. Those clubs are shareholders in Waitakere United and would see a dividend returned to them if we are to win the O-League. But, if we don’t get the result on the park the discussion is irrelevant so let’s get the win first.”
Tai Nicholas, General Secretary of Oceania Football Confederation says the spin offs for the winner and the entire region are significant, whichever way the game goes on Sunday.
“As with any FIFA tournament of this nature, the Confederation of the club or country represented also receives a sum of money from FIFA to plough back into development programmes. Whether it is Ba or Waitakere that wins on Sunday, I’m sure both will make very good and sensible use of their windfall. Similarly Oceania has plans to reinvest any contributions we receive from FIFA on the back of the World Club Championships later this year.”
Fijian champions Ba lead the two legged final heading into Sunday’s match, courtesy of their 2-1 home win last weekend at Govind Park.
Waitakere United Media Session
Waitakere United will train tonight at North Harbour Stadium (artificial field on the interior ring road) with media invited to attend for player and management interviews from 6pm until 7pm.
Ba FC Media Session
Ba will tonight attend an official dinner in their honour at Extreme Entertainment in Botany, Auckland. Media interviews with players and management are available from 7.45pm this evening.