The battle over the Port Adelaide Football Club’s “prison bar” guernsey has again intensified, with Collingwood president Eddie McGuire saying he has referred the matter to the AFL’s legal department.
The Power launched an online petition on Wednesday to wear the historic black-and-white prison bar strip in future matches against cross-town rivals the Adelaide Crows.
Power players donned the guernsey, historically worn by the club’s SANFL side the Magpies, in the side’s 75-point Showdown win on Saturday after being granted permission.
Port Adelaide chairman David Koch said the petition, which has already attracted more than 15,000 expressions of support, would form part of the club’s official submission to the AFL.
“It is overwhelmingly clear that not only our members and supporters want to see this guernsey featured in ‘showdowns’ on the national stage, but it is also evident that we have widespread support from supporters of other clubs,” Koch said in a statement.
“I am proud to announce that all living captains of Port Adelaide have already pledged their support as part of this petition.”
Koch said Australian Football Hall of Fame members including Kevin Sheedy, David Parkin, Malcolm Blight and Graham Cornes had also voiced public support for the club’s position.
Collingwood has previously opposed the Power wearing the guernsey, claiming it clashes with the Magpies’ black-and-white colours.
McGuire responded to the petition on Channel Nine’s Footy Classified, saying he had referred the push to the AFL’s chairman, chief executive and legal team.
“Port Adelaide signed a petition, it was called a contract. They signed it twice,” McGuire said.
“[They signed it] coming into the competition and another one that’s got my signature and Gil McLachlan’s signature on it, and the president of Port Adelaide.”
McGuire said Collingwood and the AFL had sat down previously with Port Adelaide, allowing them to wear the guernsey in this year’s Showdown, but that he had now had enough.
“I don’t know if Kochie has decided this is going to be his big go to get his members onside, I don’t care,” he said.
“The AFL own the copyright, I’ve referred it now to the AFL chairman and to the CEO and to the legal department of the AFL.
“They must defend the copyright … otherwise they will be in breach of their own copyright and the constitution of the AFL.
“It’s a simple solution: they say ‘no’ and we move forward.”
‘Guernsey represents who we are’
McGuire suggested Port Adelaide could wear a prison bar top without black-and-white stripes, instead using teal.
Koch said the push was just about marking the club’s history, particularly amid its 150th year.
“All we are asking is that we are able to wear our historic black-and-white prison bar guernsey in all Showdowns moving forward,” he said.
“A football guernsey is more than a piece of cloth. It’s about identity, meaning, and purpose. This is why the traditional black-and-white prison bar guernsey is so important for our people.
“This guernsey represents who we are, and where generations of people and families who support Port Adelaide come from … and when you’re celebrating 150 years of tradition like we are, that’s important.”
Earlier this month, Koch hit back at McGuire’s comments that Collingwood would go to court to stop the guernsey push.