By Michelangelo Rucci
Let’s deal with facts rather than emotion.
Port Adelaide wants to wear its distinctly Port Adelaide black-and-white jumper in the AFL out of respect to its heritage…and, most importantly, to honour the wishes of its fans (the people Australian football needs to respect most in recognition of their loyalty through the COVID pandemic).
Port Adelaide believes the most-appropriate moment for this display that connects the past with the future is the Showdowns, both derbies against the Adelaide Football Club.
This gives powerful definition to the Showdown, even for the intown rival.
The Showdown reflects the heritage of South Australian football, the grand divide that separated the Port Adelaide Football Club from the rest in the SANFL – the long-running “them and us” that the “outsider” Fos Williams took to the ultimate level on arriving at Alberton in 1950.
No longer does the Showdown need to manufacture an agenda. The derby would be built on heritage, history and a clearly defined distinction between Port Adelaide and Adelaide – just as there is in the Victorian derby between Collingwood and Carlton.
And most importantly, the fans get what they want – the chance to see the jumper they cherish most live on in the moments they appreciate most, the Showdowns.
So what are the “unintended consequences” of Port Adelaide wearing black-and-white bars (as opposed to stripes) in Showdowns?
Does this diminish the Collingwood Football Club? No.
Will corporate houses seek refunds on their sponsorship deals at Collingwood because another AFL club wears black-and-white twice a year, outside of the Victorian market? No.
Sponsors associate with Collingwood to appeal to its large supporter base – not because it wears black-and-white stripes.
If marketing was based on the power of black-and-white stripes why does Italian football giant Juventus not block rivals such as Udinese from wearing the same shirt in the Serie A.
It’s because corporate backers value the Juventus brand and reach rather than a guernsey – same with Collingwood.
Will Collingwood sell less merchandise? No.
Now that former Collingwood president Eddie McGuire has put commercial themes on the agenda, the AFL Commission should recognise the Showdown, the Port Adelaide Football Club and the connection with Port Adelaide fans is enhanced by endorsing the bars jumper for SA derbies.
And there is some money to be made too, in increased sponsorship for the Showdown (that helps the Adelaide Football Club too) and merchandising sales for Port Adelaide.
Eddie gets his wish of a financially stronger Port Adelaide. Just as his club became sounder after it took a cut of the $4 million licence fee paid by Port Adelaide from 1997 when Collingwood – and many other traditional VFL clubs – were financially challenged.
It is time to end this farcical saga. The game is better – and stronger – with Port Adelaide in black-and-white bars in the Showdowns.