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Port Adelaide's China profit allows for "feet on the ground"

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JUNE 02: Kane Farrell of the Power and Jarryn Geary of the Saints compete for the ball during the 2019 AFL round 11 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Port Adelaide Power at Adelaide Arena at Jiangwan Stadium on June 02, 2019 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos)

PORT ADELAIDE’s China engagement will take another step forward with the club to have a permanent staff member in Shanghai in 2020 – the year of the club’s 150th anniversary.

Tony Zhang will become the club’s Chief Representative in China.

Zhang has rich experience, having worked as a Trade Commissioner for Austrade, and then also has the Head of the NSW Representative Office in China, for a decade.

The announcement was made to coincide with the opening of Australia House on Wednesday by the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham.

Zhang’s appointment comes after the club was able to report a profit from its China engagement strategy in its fourth year in the region.

“We made around half-a-million-dollar profit from our commercial activities China. We have built a strong foundation in China, with significant long-term partners such as CRED, Jincheng Group, PwC and The University of Adelaide,” said Port Adelaide’s General Manager – China Engagement, Andrew Hunter.

“We take this opportunity to particularly acknowledge the ongoing support from Shanghai CRED, and its Chairman Gui Guojie. His ongoing support for this project has been absolutely critical to its success.”

CRED first became a partner of the Port Adelaide Football Club in 2016, and it has a further four years to run on its current agreement.

With a strong pipeline, and further announcements to come in the following weeks, the club believes now is the perfect moment to appoint a Chief Representative in China.

It has been five years since Port Adelaide announced its China Strategy, and an appropriate moment to reflect on what has been achieved.

In 2016, Port Adelaide signed partnership agreements with CRED and brokered a broadcast agreement with CCTV. Port Adelaide’s intention to play an in-season AFL match in China was first announced by then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, on 14 April 2016.

In 2017, Port Adelaide welcomed Premier Li Keqiang into its changerooms prior to its Round 1 match against Sydney in March, and participated in the first match in the People’s Republic in May.

One year later, the second match in China was witnessed by Minister Stephen Ciobo, who was the first Australian Minister to visit China in over eight months.

On 30 March this year, Minister Birmingham announced in the new Festival of Australia concept, which included the annual AFL game in Shanghai.

The game, delivered by a Joint Venture between the AFL and Port Adelaide Football Club, is now an annual fixture.

“We started this project from ground zero. Brick by brick, we have put this strong foundation in place. We’ve taken a product that was unknown and unwanted into a new market, but developed a business platform that generates new revenue for Port Adelaide without the attrition of traditional sporting assets.

“It’s taken creative thinking and resilience through a difficult and challenging period, as the bilateral relationship traversed a difficult period and the regulatory environment in China going through dramatic change.

“We are happy to announce a substantial profit in the last financial year – but we’re also determined to achieve a stronger outcome in 2020, the year of our 150th anniversary. Today’s appointment will help us achieve these ambitions.”

Next year will see the fourth in-season AFL match to be played in China. It will once again feature Port Adelaide and St Kilda, and played at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai’s Yangpu District on Sunday, 31 May.

The match will once again be the last event on the Festival of Australia program, and will be supported by the Commonwealth Government through an agreement Austrade and DFAT.