Will Gold Coast play in China again?

Sunday, 14 May 2017, 07:41:31 PM. THE signs were there for the Suns from the start when the first few bars of Port Adelaide’s club song drifted across the ground as the sides squared off for the national anthem.

Order was quickly restored, and Advance Australia Fair was played to wild applause by the capacity crowd.

It was the last thing the Suns had to cheer about.

Rodney Eade may never want to come back, but the club’s administrators will conduct a thorough review of the experiment in the coming weeks before announcing their intentions for next year.

MATCH REPORT: SUNS FAIL TO RISE IN SHAGHAI

AFL boss Gillon McLachlan sat between opposing chairmen David Koch and Tony Cochrane to avoid “an international incident” before declaring the day a resounding success.

He said the league would conduct a debrief and make their announcement about ­future games within weeks.

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Port Adelaide fans attended the Shanghai match in big numbers. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

McLachlan said the Suns were in the hot seat if they wanted to be Port’s opponent and said the poor showing had not hurt their chances.

“Gold Coast can be a really important partner and I think that is a decision for them if they want to be a partner,” he said.

Suns chief executive Mark Evans will author the review with board member Paul Scurrah, who will interview senior players for their input.

Port claim to have half the competition coming at them to be involved next year.

Gold Coast certainly had less presence in Shanghai than Port, who have been planning the project for three years.

Insiders say it was not until the departure of former CEO Andrew Travis and COO Paul Pamenter that is became apparent how far behind Port the Suns were in attempts to commercialise the game.

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Port Adelaide and Gold Coast players runs through a joint banner. Picture: AFL MediaSource:Supplied

It was a smashing success on and off the field for Port Adelaide.

Port now have 20 commercial partners in the game (12 of them are Chinese companies).

This week they announced a three-year deal with Chinese e-commerce company MJK, whose logo adorned the interchange bench yesterday, and also a strategic partnership with the Shandong Sport Institute and the South Australian Government.

Importantly for the bottom line-conscious AFL, there was no financial hit to their coffers.

The $4 million it cost to stage the event was recouped through local sponsorships and Tourism Australia’s $1 million investment.

The AFL deserve some wraps for pulling off such a huge logistical exercise with barely a hiccup.

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT

1. THE Rory Thompson gamble failed. When he injured his hamstring in the warm up, the first conclusion was that travel may have played a part. But bringing a guy in for an overseas game after a month out always seemed like an incredible risk.

2. THE locals loved it. A lot of Aussie travellers identified the scrappy nature of the contest and, probably sensing a wipe-out coming, opted for the Tasting Australia tent – the only place you get a drink. But the Chinese appeared engrossed, especially by the physical clashes.

3. OPEN stadiums with exposed coaches boxes don’t work. At least 1000 people on the Western Wing know exactly how Rodney Eade feels about certain players after his emotions ran high.

4. PETER Wright is out of form and terribly low on confidence and Sam Day’s absence is truly being felt. The Suns used Rory Thompson’s absence to develop Jack Leslie over the past month but there is no one in line if Eade wants to give 2m Peter a spell.

5. BEC Ebert would have enjoyed her first mother’s day. Port star Brad Ebert arrived in Shanghai a couple, of days after the team to spend time with his wife and new bub Leo. He celebrated mother’s day with a stunning display in the midfield for the Power.

Originally published as Will Gold Coast play in China again?

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