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Schulz sent packing from Port as Crows regain membership crown

Football

Port Adelaide spearhead Jay Schulz is not part of the Power’s plans for 2017, with the club opting not to renew the veteran’s contract.

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The 31-year-old has spent much of the season on the sidelines, first through an ongoing back injury and then through indifferent form.

However the former Richmond player is yet to call time on his career.

After being linked with a move west to Fremantle last year he opted to remain on a one-year contract at Port, and now says he will explore his options as a player for 2017 and hopes to pursue a coaching role thereafter.

“While I’m disappointed with the club’s decision to let me go I understand and respect the reasons behind it, and wish them all the best with what I’m sure will be a bright future,” he said in a statement.

“Personally, I think I have a couple of years of footy left in me and I look forward to developing off-field too. Helping young players get the best out of themselves is a passion of mine and I’m keen to pursue a career in coaching once my playing days are over.”

Schulz – who topped Port’s goal-kicking tally four times – thanked his family, the club’s supporters and former coach Mark Williams “for giving me a chance”.

Current coach Ken Hinkley said the decision to move Schulz on was “difficult”, with his “value on the field clear for all to see ever since he walked into the Port Adelaide Football Club”.

“Just as valuable has been his strength and leadership off-field,” he said.

“Unfortunately the nature of football means we need to make hard decisions around this time of year, and we need to always have our eyes on what our list needs for the future… Jay understands that, and he’s handled himself superbly throughout our discussions.”

Schulz will play his final game in Port Adelaide colours against Gold Coast in Queensland on Saturday night.

As the Power begins the post-mortem of a lost season, the Crows are playing for ladder position ahead of their second successive finals campaign. The club’s respective fortunes on-field have been mirrored off the ground, with the AFL today publishing its revised membership tally to July 31 – with the Crows retaking the crown from their cross-town rival for SA’s highest-membership club.

Port caused a stir last season, overtaking Adelaide for the first time ever.

However, a minor lapse – of just 314 members – combined with a surge to the Crows, has seen Adelaide edge back ahead.

Adelaide boasts 54,307 members compared to 52,920 last year, while the Power have 53,743, down from last season’s high-watermark of 54,057.

It is nonetheless the club’s second highest AFL-audited figure.

Triple Premier Hawthorn topped the membership tally with 75,351.

The Crows and Port ranked seventh and eighth respectively.

The AFL’s stated criteria for a ‘member’ is a person who spends more than $50 on their membership, receives a membership pack and provides their name and contact information to the club.

Crows CEO Andrew Fagan said the figures, while “interesting”, represented “only a part of our strong membership base.”

“Many fans hold membership packages that the AFL does not count, but we have their names and contact details, they invest in the club in multiple ways and are reaching out to them every week,” he said in a statement.

“We aim to develop a greater level of engagement with each of our 600,000 supporters.”

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