Updated: 12/18/2013 10:29 | By Agence France-Presse

New Zealand Football hires ex-London Irish chief

New Zealand Football (NZF) said Wednesday it has hired former London Irish boss Andy Martin as chief executive, with the Briton vowing to oversee a "period of change" at the struggling organisation.

New Zealand Football hires ex-London Irish chief

New Zealand players leave the pitch after losing 5-1 to Mexico in their FIFA World Cup play-off match, in Mexico City, on November 13, 2013

Martin will take over in February after leaving London Irish "by mutual agreement" when a consortium of Irish businessmen took over the rugby union club earlier this month.

He said moving into football administration was a return to his first sporting love.

"I am excited by the many opportunities and challenges facing New Zealand Football at the moment," he said. "We are at a potentially transformational point in its history.

"I am very much looking forward to the coming period of change."

Martin takes over with the New Zealand national team looking for a new coach and attempting to rebuild after a humiliating 9-3 aggregate loss to Mexico in a two-legged World Cup qualification play-off.

Ricki Herbert, who quit as coach after the Mexico defeat, has called for NZF to move the All Whites into the Asian Football Confederation, saying their development was being stunted by poor quality opposition in Oceania.

Australia switched from Oceania to the Asian zone in 2006, successfully qualifying for that year's World Cup as well as 2010 and next year's in Brazil.

NZF has also seen a high staff turnover in the past 12 months and faced criticism for poor off-field management, including a failure to organise any meaningful warm-up games in the lead-up to the Mexico play-off.

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