TODAY the offices of the Allan Scott Power Headquarters look very different, as Port Adelaide begins its first week operating in a significantly different capacity.
As a response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis that is disrupting life around the globe, the club made the difficult decision to stand down the majority of its staff in order to maintain financial viability.
CEO Keith Thomas was among the decision makers determining who would and wouldn’t be included in Port’s ‘mission critical’ staff over the next few months and he admitted it was a tough time for all involved.
“We’ve been thinking about these things for quite a while. We were involved in the decision about China. It was months ago that we were really aware of what was coming,” Thomas said on Adelaide radio this morning.
“But it was largely theoretical. It was spreadsheets and financial models and ‘what ifs’.
“Last week it became real. You find yourself sitting in front of friends and really good people who are for no fault of their own out of work for a while, or permanently for us.
“The impact on their families going into a really uncertain time weighs pretty heavy on you to be honest.”
80 per cent of Port Adelaide’s staff have been stood down until at least May 31, while eight roles have sadly been made redundant.
Meanwhile, Port’s remaining staff are currently operating from home and those that made the trip to the Gold Coast for round one are a week into 14 days of self-isolation.
Thomas, who took the reins at Alberton in August 2011, explained the challenging decisions were made to not only assist the club in the financial short term, but with the long-term vision to be able to hit the ground running again when circumstances allowed.
“What you have to start thinking about it is what the club looks like when you come back,” he said.
“Already we are aware that it needs to look different – it will look smaller.
“The roles that survive (during the period of stand down) are those that in the immediate short term we classify as ‘mission critical’, roles you just have to do to keep moving and to stay afloat.
“Then there are the jobs that you are thinking about for when things return to normal and you are reshaping the club, you have to make sure they are intact when the club gets back.”
During the current period of uncertainty, Thomas is leaning on his experience of leading the club through the dark days of the early 2010s, but admits the structure of the club’s football department will also likely change moving forward.
“There will be decisions that will need to be made about where we spend our money in footy, there’s no doubt about that,” Thomas said.
“Every club will be faced with a scenario where they need to prioritise and say, ‘in the new world, what do we believe is absolutely essential to get the result we want to get.’
“I remember when I first started at Port, we had been stripped bare of resources. We had to go through a process of deciding what is most important.
“You have to think about all of those things. The size of the budget that we have will be affected for many years to come.”
Port’s chief executive has been inspired by the AFL’s determination to complete the 2020 premiership season in some capacity, whether that means playing games through to December.
In the meantime, Thomas remains confident that South Australia’s oldest football club will survive, knowing the eventual return of football gives hope to the entire industry.
“The club will get through it,” he said.
“It’s really important that (AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan) is showing great determination to ensure that a season of some form occurs later in the year.
“Now that will be dictated largely by the way in which this virus plays out and our ability as a community to manage it the best we can.
“I like the determination, I like the flexibility.
“That gives us as an industry focus and purpose and enables us to keep pointing people in the right direction
“I am confident that we will get to that point because I know it’s really important that we do.”