Port Adelaide’s request to wear its iconic black-and-white striped “prison bars” guernsey for next weekend’s Showdown with the Adelaide Crows has been denied by the AFL.
Port had requested to wear the guernsey for its local derbies with the Crows to honour the club’s heritage as the Magpies, which they were called in their SANFL days.
The Collingwood Magpies protested this, although Port was allowed to wear the prison bars for a 2020 game against the Crows to mark their 150th anniversary.
But the AFL confirmed it had not given them permission this time because of the existing agreements between the league, Port and Collingwood.
“That agreement, signed by all parties, stipulated the guernsey was specifically approved for Port Adelaide’s use only for that single match in 2020 and Collingwood’s approval did not bind it with respect to any other future proposals by the Port Adelaide Football Club in respect of the guernsey,” an AFL statement read.
“Collingwood Football Club has made it clear that, at this time, it does not agree to further use of the guernsey by PAFC including in ‘Showdown’ matches against Adelaide Crows.”
Port Adelaide chairman David Koch said on Adelaide radio he asked what would happen if the team just wore the prison bars in round eight without AFL permission and he was told they would forfeit points from the game.
“I said, ‘I’m happy to pay a fine’ and [the AFL] said, ‘we’ll fine you and take points off you’, which we can’t afford,” he said.
After being allowed to wear it once last year, the fight kicked off again later in 2020 when Port fans petitioned for the team to wear it in every Showdown, but then-Collingwood president Eddie McGuire put his foot down, referring the matter to the AFL’s legal department.
McGuire said on Channel Nine this week “let’s just go to the Federal Court”, while displaying a copy of a 2007 agreement that gave Port permission to wear the strip in now-defunct heritage rounds, provided the game was not against Collingwood.
Koch on Wednesday said of the latest request to wear it in Showdowns that he had not seen anything that should prevent the club from wearing it on other special occasions.
“I again ask that if such agreements exist, the AFL present them. We’ve been through all of the license agreements, our original AFL license and tender documents, and we can find no such agreement,” Koch said.
“Port Adelaide is willing to meet to find a solution to this matter and has been for the last two years, but no-one is prepared to join us at the table.”
He said in his statement that the most recent request honoured the spirit of the 2007 agreement.
“This agreement was co-signed by the AFL and Collingwood, which clearly indicates that both parties endorsed Port Adelaide wearing this heritage guernsey on a limited basis every year,” he said.
“We believe that our position is reasonable and in line with the agreement. This issue isn’t just about Port Adelaide. It is about the passion and connection that ALL fans have for their clubs.”
Koch said the team had repeatedly asked over the past two years to wear the guernsey in the local derby matches, and said it was “ridiculous” that the AFL was dragging its feet.
“We aren’t asking to wear it as a regular home or away guernsey or even outside of South Australia. It’s a request for Showdowns only, in Adelaide,” Koch said.
“The AFL own the intellectual property rights to all AFL clubs, and therefore this is a decision the AFL can make independently in representing what is in the best interests of the game and all clubs.”
In recent years, Port Adelaide Football Club has moved away from the “Power” moniker it adopted when it joined the national league and returned to the black and white colour scheme of its days as the Magpies.
Koch promised “this issue isn’t going away” because it was “too important to our people and our club”.
The AFL’s statement said it would keep working with Port and Collingwood regarding the guernsey discussion.