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PORT ADELAIDE has agreed to release head of high performance Darren Burgess to English Premier League club Arsenal.
The terms agreed between Port and Arsenal will see Burgess continue to fulfil his duties to Port Adelaide for the remainder of the 2017 AFL season and the start of the 2018 pre-season.
Burgess, who was handpicked by Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, will commence his new role in July.
Under the transition terms agreed between Port Adelaide and Arsenal, Burgess will:
- Return to Alberton in late July to continue to supervise the club's high performance program for the end of the home and away season
- Should Port Adelaide take part in the AFL finals series, return to Alberton for the entire duration of the finals campaign
- Return to Alberton in both October and November to plan and implement Port Adelaide’s 2017/18 pre-season program
- At that time hand over to a successor whose international search and recruitment process will be led by Burgess
- Undertake daily remote consultation with Port Adelaide’s high performance team and football program, including coach Ken Hinkley, for the duration of this transition period
- Remain an integral part in Port Adelaide’s China high performance program
Port Adelaide chief executive Keith Thomas said Burgess went to Arsenal with the club's blessing, and with integrity around Port's high performance program remaining.
"We acknowledge that this is a life changing opportunity for Darren," said Mr Thomas.
"But what we've been able to do is work with Arsenal to enact a transition process which limits any impact or disruption to our football program for this year, and retain Darren's expertise for our 2018 planning.
"We are appreciative of Arsenal's understanding that the integrity of our football program is the absolute priority for our club."
Keith Thomas thanked Burgess for his contribution to Port Adelaide, which has seen it develop an industry and nation-leading high performance program in the years since 2013.
"When we set out to rebuild our program we committed to being a global best practice sports organisation. To have a club like Arsenal hand pick Darren is testament to the calibre of our personnel, our football program and ultimately our organisation," Mr Thomas said.
"It also further underlines the impact and influence Port Adelaide is having on the international sports stage, from our success in China, to being named as one of Sports International's top 20 sports innovators globally.
Global partnership beckons
Further to recent developments in the global partnership space, Port Adelaide will pursue an arrangement with Arsenal - one of the UK's biggest football clubs - to grow sports science and professional development opportunties between Highbury and Alberton.
"Arsenal have indicated their desire to be part of a new collaborative partnership with Port Adelaide in a range of areas including sports science, professional development and international growth. That brings some amazing opportunities with it and we look forward to putting that arrangement in place as soon as we can," said Mr Thomas.
"It’s part of our ongoing journey and desire to becoming a world class sports organisation".
Mr Thomas will meet with Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis in Australia in July to finalise Port Adelaide’s international partnership with Arsenal.
Burgess thanks Port
Darren Burgess extended his thanks to Port Adelaide and its supporter base in the club's Monday media announcement:
“Reaching this decision has been one of the toughest decisions in my professional career”, said Mr Burgess.
“My family loves the lifestyle of Adelaide and more importantly we love everything about the Port Adelaide Football Club.
“When the opportunity came up to return to Port Adelaide I had no hesitation in returning. Port Adelaide is like family and once you’ve worked in this environment with so many outstanding people it is very difficult to leave.
“It’s especially difficult knowing the club is on the right path for sustained success both on and off the field.
“However, the opportunity to return to the English Premier League and work at one of the world’s most successful sporting organisations in Arsenal is an opportunity I simply couldn’t refuse.
“I look forward to continue having a relationship with Port Adelaide from afar and thank the entire club for their support and many great memories over two stints.”