Story By Michelangelo Rucci, Adelaide Advertiser

Photos by: Isaac Lawrence (HK)

PORT Adelaide will play in China next year — at least with its Aboriginal academy team.

And the Power’s commitment to the untouched and lucrative China market was highlighted Thursday with major announcements in Hong Kong.

Port Adelaide president David Koch and chief executive Keith Thomas revealed the Power would:

SEEK AFL approval for a pre-season game in China next year.

SEND the Port Adelaide Aboriginal academy team to China to play the Chinese national team in the seasons between the AFL International Cup series (which is played every three years in Melbourne). “Team China” is sponsored by the Power.

PLACE a full-time employee in China to work on game development.

PROVIDE Mandarin commentary for ABC International coverage of Port Adelaide’s AFL games, to make it more attractive for the Chinese market.

FURTHER moves for the first AFL match for premiership points to be played in China — probably on the Guangdong university campus — in 2017. The game could involve Melbourne, the other AFL club building links to China.

The Power revealed its ambitious “China Strategy” at a business lunch with 400 guests at the Hong Kong Football Club, where Advertiser columnist Graham Cornes was the guest speaker.

Thomas told The Advertiser that the Power’s “China Strategy” was part of the club’s determination to explore new markets and new sponsorship opportunities in non-traditional areas.

“Critically we are showing the China market that we want to build relationships in China rather than just grab a sponsorship cheque,” Thomas said.

“We’ve joined the AFL in wanting to develop the game in China, both with players and as a television rights market. Our commitment to this is highlighted by placing a full-time employee in China to work on game-development projects.

“We’re here in China to build partnerships.”

Port Adelaide’s partnership with UniSA — where fitness coach Darren Burgess has created a Masters degree on preparing high-performance athletes and teams — will spread to China with the Adelaide-based tertiary college striking an alliance with Guangdong University.

2 Responses to “Port Adelaide puts its footprint on China as AFL looks for growth offshore”

  1. […] conjunction with Port Adelaide hosted an Anzac Day lunch where Port Adelaide President David Kosh made several important announcements about their commitment to South China Football. The day also featured an exhibition match between […]

  2. Colin Whelan says:

    Hi Michelangelo,

    I am more than interested to read the continued investment by PAFC to develop a China strategy. I have worked in HKG and China for a number of years and have significant roots wit PAFC (my father played in seven winning GF’s including the ‘six in a row’ milestone). When I couldn’t play footy myself (4 ACL reco’s before I turned 25) I turned to a commercial career.
    I have significant competency and success creating revenue, developing markets, and generating sales for organisations. Part of my development included a 4 year relocation to North Asia (HKG and Seoul based).
    My concern with this strategy is not that it is courageous, but that it lacks a sense of strategic understanding or clarity.

    Revenue for elite sport clubs in Australia comes from loyalty (membership, attendance, merchandise etc), sponsorships, and corporate partnerships.

    The big difference is that loyalty revenue depends upon the product delivered (the ability of the club to develop a brand that satisfies consumer demand through its game day success), while corporate partnerships and sponsorships want to leverage the brand.
    I was at the club for six months when we built the ‘never give up’ (resilience) brand platform. My intention was to build on other tenets of success (e.g. courage – to have a go; discipline – to train hard and be the toughest/strongest/hardest), then bring it all together in a ‘what is success’ Brand.
    A club like PAFC must always deliver on the tenets of success, even if the ultimate success eludes it. Fans will always watch a team fight to the very end, but no team always wins. Unfortunately the 6 month AFL contract expired and PAFC went on to post “we will stand up” and “bring the noise” brand slogans. Disappointing. They have lost the ability to build a brand based on the tenets of success. It can be very powerful.

    Importantly, corporates try very hard to engage consumers; while elite sporting clubs/codes have engagement in abundance. Its unique.

    It is important to keep loyalty (price inelastic demand marketing) separate from leveraging (price elastic demand marketing). They are two very different concepts for generating profitable and sustainable revenue.

    With PAFC they seem to be trying to develop the loyalty of AFL in Southern China (games/local sponsorship/game development officer), hoping to win ‘new sponsorship opportunities’. Its based on a ‘partnership build’ strategy.

    The concern is that PAFC need to be much more strategic (refer They need to identify the value AFL generally and PAFC in particular hold to targeted corporates – then peruse them with effective initiatives. They can’t afford to fluff around with game development when the commercial reality awaits.

    Just imagine getting in with Sheedy and his ‘farming’ special round. We have wheat from the Eyre Peninsula, seafood from Coffin Bay, vegetables and fresh farm goods in abundance and farmers are looking for markets. PAFC can bring like minded parties together. Its not an easy thing to do when you are a corporate. Footy and match day entertainment can be a useful way of bringing people together.

    I have specific solutions that you may want to understand at any level of detail required. I love my Club but I hate seeing good money being used on ‘fisherman’ tactics instead of concise, clear, and very targeted strategic initiatives.

    If you had an understanding of revenue perhaps we could help the club achieve its goals in a quicker and more cost effective way. It should be the strongest Club in the AFL, instead we flounder because making the transition from a footy club to a footy business is a quantum leap. KT is an ‘operations’ based CEO. He loves the game and is good at that side of it. Perhaps we can help him commercially and get them to use Kochie more effectively. I think its important we start getting some $$$’s coming in. those people out there who think profits can only come from premierships are dead wrong.

    In the commercial world comments like the following KT made are very disappointing… “critically we are showing the China market that we want to build relationships in China rather than just grab a sponsorship dollar”. In commercial terms everything you do is about revenue and if you can find a way of showing that sponsorship is a great investment for their business, you take the money and build on the business relationship. Don’t try to be nice guys; be smart (and nice) guys.

    Kind regards,

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