Football: All Whites unlikely to play in Dunedin

Grant McKavanagh.
Grant McKavanagh.
The chances of the All Whites playing at Forsyth Barr Stadium look slim, with the head of New Zealand football saying it is a "long shot" the national side would venture south.

New Zealand Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh said although no decision had been made on where the All Whites would play their World Cup qualifier in March it was unlikely to be at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The decision has disappointed stadium chiefs, who are less than impressed with the communication they have received from New Zealand Football. The All Whites play in Christchurch next month against Tahiti in the second game of the first stage of their World Cup qualifiying campaign.

The side played the Solomon Islands at North Harbour Stadium last week, winning 6-1 in front of a crowd of about 8000.

The final home game in this part of the qualifying stages is against New Caledonia in March and New Zealand Football has not yet allocated a venue for the game.

There was optimism Forsyth Barr Stadium would host the game but that now appears extremely unlikely.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd had put in a proposal to host the game but McKavanagh poured cold water on its success.

"The decision we received from DVML has not been looked on favourably. There are a lot of costs involved in coming down to Dunedin and tight time frames," he said.

"We have to know when we are bringing a game to a town that we are coming into the right environment. There was nothing of that in what we received from the DVML proposal."

He said relative to what other stadiums around New Zealand had proposed, the Dunedin venture did not stack up.

When asked if the game last week was financially viable, he said it was not but "if the game was in Dunedin it would have been a whole lot worse".

He said the bottom line for football was it had a different cost model from other sports which had most of their athletes in the country.

It cost $120,000 in air fares alone to assemble the All Whites, as the majority of players had to fly from overseas, with many based in Europe. The tight international window meant it was a challenge to get the players back from overseas and then down to Dunedin.

He said the support from organisations such as the Christchurch City Council had been a big factor in taking the game to Christchurch.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd commercial director Guy Hedderwick said he was disappointed to hear the stadium was not likely to host an All Whites game.

He thought the proposal put forward by DVML was a sound one and all the risk was with the stadium.

"It is hard to find out what they didn't like and what more we could have done when we have not been able to contact them," Hedderwick said.

He questioned why, if players could get to Christchurch for next month's game, they could not come to Dunedin.

When asked if New Zealand Football was looking for problems rather than searching for solutions in regards to playing to Dunedin, Hedderwick said he could not answer that as he had never spoken to anyone at New Zealand Football.

DVML had sent off its proposal to host the game to New Zealand Football a couple of months ago and not heard anything since.


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