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Jan, 17, 2006

African football shows healthy bank balance

CAIRO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The Confederation of African Football (CAF) is set to announce a healthy balance sheet to its membership, with cash assets of over $24million and an annual income of just under half of that.

The organisation's financial report, released ahead of this week's CAF Congress in Cairo, shows it earned $5.5 million from its annual competitions last year and received just under $4.6million in a grant from FIFA.

A total annual income of $12.3million is a record for the organisation, which made a surplus last year after costs of almost $8.9million.

CAF finance committee chairman Suketu Patel warned in the report, however, that wise investment of the organisation's resources was vital to the future of the game on the continent.

'CAF will not be able to sustain current levels of investment in development programmes if we cannot make African football attractive enough to allow more resources to flow into our confederation,' he said.

Meetings and travel accounted for just under half of expenses, while $1.55million was spent on development programmes.

CAF continues to earn the majority of its money from the sale of television and marketing rights of the African Nations Cup and African Champions League.

The French company Sport Five pays $5million annually for Champions League rights and $5.5million every two years for the African Nations Cup. Its current contract runs until 2008.

FIFA's annual grant, instituted since Sepp Blatter became president, has come close to doubling the organisation's revenue and allowed the traditionally frugal CAF more expansive ideas in recent years.

CAF had hoped to build development centres in five countries as regional training venues but the plans were abandoned last year after being criticised by committee members as potential 'white elephants'.

CAF now plans to give annual grants to member countries, who already receive $250,000 each annually from FIFA.

CAF said in its financial report that its resources had grown to $26.4million from $3.6million over the last decade.

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