Port Adelaide returns to Hong Kong recently with a high-powered delegation that is not only seeking new sponsorship deals, but a ground for AFL matches as soon as next year.
The Power board led by president David Koch and key executives led by CEO Keith Thomas will meet major Chinese business leaders and university staff among the 400 at a club lunch at the Hong Kong Cricket and Football Club.
Already in China is Power marketing boss Matthew Richardson who is reviewing a field at the Guangdong University campus where Port Adelaide wants to play a pre-season game next year and in 2017 — the first AFL game for premiership points in China.
The business lunch — the second after last year’s successful launch of the club’s “China Strategy” at a board meeting in Hong Kong — will lead to major commitments in China, particularly as the Power links its partnership with UniSA to the Guangdong University.
But the real test of the “China Strategy” remains on how it delivers sponsors who can underwrite Power games in China.
Thomas last week met AFL fixture chief Simon Lethlean to gain reassurance that the league will back Port Adelaide’s ambitions to play games in China — including premiership matches.
Lethlean also put the Power in the frame as the “away” team in Brisbane’s plan to play a premiership game in Singapore — an offer Port Adelaide is likely to pass up to avoid compromising its China ambitions.
Thomas told The Advertiser that the Power had a three-year “China Strategy” that is based on “giving before you take”. This has led to Port Adelaide sponsoring the China national AFL team that will tour Australia every three years, the South China and Guangdong AFL competitions and forming links to Chinese universities.
“We want to build partnerships so that people — and businesses — see we are in China for the right reasons and a long run,” Thomas said. “We want to invest in China for three years — this is the second — and then see what possibilities emerge.”
Australian Football Hall of Famer and Advertiser columnist Graham Cornes will be the special guest speaker at today’s business lunch that will have an Anzac theme. Australian musician John Schumann, who was part of the pre-game in the Anzac game at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night, will lead the entertainment.