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Port the AFL's biggest disappointment, says Koch

Football

Port Adelaide chairman David Koch has described the club as “the biggest disappointment of the AFL” after a season that saw the club tumble from premiership aspirants to non-finalists.

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The co-host of Channel 7’s Sunrise program, whose stewardship is credited with much of Port’s off-field revival, told a Local Government Association conference in Adelaide that the Power was “completely transparent” about its predicament: “We, on-field, are the biggest disappointment of the AFL this year, no doubt about it,” he said.

“We’re not going to hide from it, we’re not going to make excuses (but) it’s important to be completely honest…and we have to do something about it.”

Koch said the Port Adelaide “tribe” was “our biggest critic if they’re disappointed…but they stick with us through thick and thin”.

He said the disappointment on the field was tempered by stunning success off it, with the club turning its first profit in almost a decade. The task now, he maintained, was to build on that and be “financially sustainable”.

Koch was the keynote speaker at the LGA’s annual conference, which concludes today with the association’s AGM. He spoke to the assembled mayors, councillors and staff about “how to run like a high-performance (sporting) organisation”, with tips for engaging stakeholders from a sporting code he said boasted the fourth highest average match attendances of any sport in the world.

He said one in 10 South Australians was a paid-up member of either the Crows or the Power, with his club laying claim to the “highest engagement with members” in the league and the strongest retention of existing members.

A regular email missive sent directly to members from CEO Keith Thomas is “single-handedly our biggest marketing tool”, Koch said.

“Because it says to our members, ‘Hey, I’m being thought of first’…that human touch, the common touch that, hey, we care for you.”

And he wasn’t shy about offering advice to policymakers about how to entice business to bolster the flailing state economy.

“You grow a pair and ask what ‘Would it take to get you to move to Adelaide?’” he said.

“You’ve got to start talking about different economic drivers…start thinking outside the square and being brave.”

Koch said the Victorian football media “didn’t give a stuff” about Port Adelaide three years ago.

“We were irrelevant in Victoria…part of our KPIs and goal-setting was we wanted to become a national brand – we wanted to be everybody’s second team.”

He said the AFL had conducted research that suggested the Power are now, indeed, “everyone’s ‘other’ team, if you like…we were the highest in terms of that response”.

He said that was due in part to deliberately courting exposure: “It was just us going to FoxFooty and saying ‘What do you want? What would it take to get you to give us more coverage?’”

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