Port finds new Power in China

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Robbie Gray, Charlie Dixon and Chen at Chinese restaurant Concubine. Picture: Sarah Reed.

PORT Adelaide’s full board will meet in Shanghai Thursday with chief executive Keith Thomas declaring the Power’s “China Strategy” has accelerated beyond expectation.

“So it is important that the whole board reconnect with China — and get up to speed,” Thomas said yesterday.

“The acceleration in this strategy means we have reached a key point — to play a game in China, finding the stadium for that first game, building the critical television partnerships and business opportunities.

“It is important the whole board see that on the ground in China.”

This is the second time the Port Adelaide Football Club board has met outside Australia — following the first session in Hong Kong in 2014 when the Power, says Thomas, was “exploring the idea of engaging with China”.

That engagement has advanced to the board meeting including leading members of the Shanghai business community. This follows April’s breakthrough announcement with China billionaire Guo Jie Gui who has invested $3 million for the next three years in the Power.

Gui will formally present his vision for Australian football in China at a banquet function in Shanghai tomorrow. And his Shanghai Cred Real Estate empire is no longer the lone Chinese business prepared to back Port Adelaide in an ambitious campaign that president David Koch says will change the AFL club’s destiny.

“What has really surprised us is how many other businesses — both in China and Australia — want to be involved with us,” Thomas said. “This trip has the power to open more doors, create more opportunity with Australia’s No. 1 trading partner.”

Port Adelaide has now hired a full-time commercial staffer to manage the business ties to China.

The Power board will also tour the stadium options in Shanghai where the AFL is keen to program a match next season. This would be the first AFL game played for premiership points in the northern hemisphere.

Thomas will stay longer in China than the board to advance Port Adelaide’s school programs in the south-east provinces and to manage the club’s joint push with the AFL to sell television rights in China.

Ratings have reached 2.5 to 3 million, almost double initial expectations.

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