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By ESPN Staff

New Zealand slash prices for crucial World Cup play-off

New Zealand soccer authorities have slashed ticket prices for the crucial World Cup qualifier in November in a bid to draw a full house at the Wellington stadium despite the economic downturn.

Soccer pales in comparison with rugby for popularity in New Zealand but the All Whites can carve a niche for themselves if they win a two-leg playoff and qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

New Zealand will meet either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia for a place in the finals, and extra support in the stadium could prove decisive.

The first match is on October 10 in the Gulf with the second match to be played at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on November 14.

New Zealand Football (NZF) said the most expensive adult tickets would be NZ$39 ($26). Comparable ticket prices for the New Zealand versus Australia rugby international at the 34,500-capacity stadium on September 19 are selling for NZ$130 ($88).

"We have to be aware of what is happening in the commmunity. There is a recession," NZF chief executive Michael Galding told Reuters at the launch of a marketing campaign for the match.

"We have been told that some other sports are suffering because they are pricing very high. Football is a game for the masses and we want to fill the stadium."

"I feel if we do...that could well be the influencing factor."

Glading also said they had settled on the ticketing strategy because there was more likelihood of maximising their revenue by selling out the stadium at a lower price than by charging a premium and selling less tickets.

Glading said interest was slowly building for the match and the marketing campaign, which included the launch of a website, would help increase that awareness before the All Whites play Jordan in a friendly on September 9.

The friendly in Amman had been organised because NZF had predicted during the Asian qualifiers their playoff opponent would be one of the Gulf teams and it would allow the team to get an indication of likely conditions in October.

"It was always a gamble because you have to book these friendlies a long way out in advance and there was always the chance we could have got North Korea, but we felt as those groups went on it was always likely to be a Middle Eastern team.

"Jordan is also a country that is relatively secure so we will try to duplicate as much as we can for October. But there is still a job to be done. ...Goal number one is to reach the World Cup finals.

"In New Zealand people don't really fully appreciate what the World Cup means.

"Billions of people around the world are interested ...(and) making the World Cup finals is truly (putting us on) a world stage.

"If we qualify we are moving into the first division."

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