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"I've allowed us to drop the ball": Thomas apology to Port fans

Football

Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas says he’s to blame for a growing disconnect between fans and his AFL club.

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Thomas says this year will be remembered for a “deafening roar” of protests from supporters as Port face missing the finals for a fourth time in five years.

Thomas was a decorated SANFL player for Norwood – Port’s arch rival in the state league – before becoming a football administrator.

And he says he’s hearing the criticism from Port’s membership aimed at himself and coach Ken Hinkley.

“The anger and frustration has been broadly and colourfully distributed but appears now squarely focused on the senior coach and the Norwood flog who employed him,” Thomas wrote in an open letter to Port fans on the club’s website.

The Power have slipped to 10th on the AFL ladder but, despite being one win from eighth spot, Thomas was apologetic for what looms as another failed season.

“I think we have a bigger problem, and I am to blame – not the footy department,’ he wrote.

“Back in 2014, the Port Adelaide Football Club was lauded … we were winning consistently,” he said of Hinkley’s second year as coach when Port lost a preliminary final.

“But that wasn’t all. We were also independently recognised as having some of the most-engaged supporters in world sport.

“We were operating in this glorious sweet spot where our on-field performances were mirroring the values our community expected.”

Thomas said then, the togetherness between the club and its fan base was genuine.

“The point is, we don’t feel like that today,” he wrote.

“Somewhere along the road to greater growth and prosperity … I’ve allowed us to drop the ball.

“It hasn’t been a huge shift in mindset. The club is still filled and surrounded by people who care a lot.

“But it’s there. I know it and, more importantly, you know it.

“And we’ve got to fix it.

“This is about more than how we play each week. It’s about putting our members back at the heart of our club – to talk less and listen more.”

-AAP

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