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AFL boss rates match a Shanghai success



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    AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has hailed the historic Shanghai match as a resounding success, saying the only negative was the one-sided result.

    Blocks of empty seats on the outer wing at Jiangwang Stadium were obvious on the TV coverage and they sparked social media commentary.

    The warm conditions were hazy, without being oppressive, and overall it could not have gone better.

    A sold-out crowd of 10,118 – fans from Australia, expats and a small but enthusiastic local contingent – watched Port Adelaide maul Gold Coast by 72 points.

    Port coach Ken Hinkley and his Suns counterpart Rodney Eade said post-match they would be happy to return.

    “It was obviously a really pleasing day for football, for Port Adelaide, for our game – a good crowd, the venue looked amazing and it came up well on broadcast,” McLachlan said.

    The key now is what Chinese authorities make of the experiment.

    Above anything else, the first AFL game for premiership points outside of Australia and NZ spearheads Port’s bid to secure sponsorship dollars in the country.

    “We think we’ve invested for the long-term here – we’ll continue to work with the local authority and the layers of government in this country,” McLachlan said.

    “But today’s been a big success, I’m sure they would have enjoyed today.”

    There was plenty of pre-game criticism, with concerns about air quality and logistics, as questions why the AFL was going ahead with a game in China.

    “Everyone sees the opportunity in China and they certainly see it clearer today,” McLachlan said.

    “Like all progress, people see obstacles when things are harder.

    “People (now) see a clearer path and maybe an easier path.”

    McLachlan said the empty sections in the grandstand were due to fans in those sections having access to nearby corporate marquees.

    He noted all the public seating areas were full and, if anything, the AFL will look to increase the ground capacity given tickets sold out in two hours.

    “There are challenges here – all the tickets were sold and then you have down that end, left of screen, some corporate marquees,” McLachlan said.

    “‘So a lot of people would have been in there, eating and drinking.”

    Eade said he would want to return so Gold Coast can redeem themselves.

    But the Suns are yet to decide whether they will commit again.

    “There’s a first-mover advantage, clearly, and I think it’s a question for Gold Coast,” McLachlan said.

    “If they do (want to return), I think they’re in a good position, without any guarantees.”

    There was widespread praise for the ground surface and McLachlan said the league would make sure it is maintained.

    “They’ll have the best frisbee turf in the world,” he said.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (94)

    • May 15th 2017 @ 5:46am
      Mitcher said | May 15th 2017 @ 5:46am | ! Report

      Frisbee? It’s an amateur football facility. Dare he not even say the name?

    • May 15th 2017 @ 9:34am
      Gyfox said | May 15th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

      The stadium holds 40,000 – but most of the seating is too far away from the ground to be used for AFL. Hence the temporary stands. The only existing stands used were on east & west flanks (where I sat). These were only $20 & filled with a mix of locals, ex-pats & travelling supporters (mainly Port). Fascinating to see Chinese families with their kids wearing Port gear! The Shanghai Tigers AFL club were out in force, along with Aussie Rules clubs from all over Asia….& a whole lot of students in Ivanhoe Grammar shirts!

      Corporate tents occupied 2 corners on western side. Most stayed inside rather than sit in their seats – because it was so damm hot! The Port Cheer Squad & supporters in their sections were a mass of colour & noise – despite the heat. The Never Tear Us Apart thing made it seem as if we were in Adelaide.

      Most of us who came from Australia had a great weekend. You kept on seeing Port fans in the street & on the metro. And at The Camel, an Aussie bar in the French Concession area.

      Yesterday the Shanghai metro was full of Port fans going to the game (& a few Suns). On the train home I chatted to an Irish guy, 2 Americans & some Asian guys who grew up in Melbourne, who attended the game & all live in Shanghai.

      Make of all that what you will – but the local English newspaper gave it a good report this morning.

      • May 15th 2017 @ 5:05pm
        Nemesis said | May 15th 2017 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

        “Yesterday the Shanghai metro was full of Port fans going to the game”

        So, in a city with a population of 24 million, you’re telling us the public transport system was filled with AFL fans going to an event that apparently had 10,000 attendees?

        You realise the population of Australia is 24 million?

        • May 15th 2017 @ 5:59pm
          Slane said | May 15th 2017 @ 5:59pm | ! Report

          I went to the Melbourne Victory Grand Final Viewing function at Etihad stadium a couple of weeks ago. It’s amazing how a few hundred people dressed in Navy all stood out together on the train ride in. Staggering given that we live in a city of 4.6million.

          It’s almost as if you’ve never actually attended a game of football before, Fuss.

          • May 15th 2017 @ 11:03pm
            Rasty said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:03pm | ! Report

            He’s been busy in Eastern Europe…

    • May 15th 2017 @ 11:09am
      Republican said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

      mmmm, 3K local attendance doesn’t sound like a success to me then success is subjective I suppose, especially when you are the head banker of the multi national television dependant AFL……

      • May 15th 2017 @ 12:35pm
        Paul W said | May 15th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        3k local attendance isn’t bad from a city with a population of 24 million !!

        I was so over the whole Port dictating terms when they were the away team.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 12:58pm
        Perry Bridge said | May 16th 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        When there is very limited capacity – and you’re catering for half or more of the venue to travelling competing club members/fans – – that doesn’t leave much space.

        All tickets were sold. Whether everyone turned up – or – many did as suggested above – and spent most of the afternoon in the corporate tents to keep out of the heat….

        IT was a start and it wasn’t a failure. That’s a reasonable start then.

    • May 15th 2017 @ 11:14am
      bongo bill said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

      looked like an underwhelming event given the crowd size and demographic, a few thousand people??
      a very long way to go, making inroads into the 1 billion plus population. but i guess in theory it can be called an international game? ((;

      • May 15th 2017 @ 3:46pm
        Nanco said | May 15th 2017 @ 3:46pm | ! Report


        Good grief – you naysayer. Its the long term business associations that will help make it a success and the Chinese physique is not suited to AFL but more to that other game where betting seems to be suspended often due to corruption. And selling the secrets in the French designed Adelaide built submarines will also be an added bonus. It was a success as no players and officials were caught with cocaine but there is a bye weekend coming up so anything is possible.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 1:03pm
        Republican said | May 16th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        The criteria to grow a brand of sport today has naught to do with actual interest on the ground.
        The world ‘market’ has clearly devolved impressionable and prosaic.
        So under this new world blue print to grow a ‘product’ i.e. our indigenous code, Beijing are prematurely being touted to be gifted stand alone entity in the AFL along side the philistine NZ, while Canberra, the NT and Tassie continue to be expediently patronised to this end………

    • May 15th 2017 @ 11:20am
      Birdman said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

      the narrow ground seemed to really put the squeeze on skill levels – I kept turning over.

      Having said that I reckon it’ll get another go next season to justify the City Hall’s positive spin.

      • Roar Guru

        May 15th 2017 @ 1:41pm
        Penster said | May 15th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

        Did you say narrow ground? Someone tell the West Coast Eagles!

    • May 15th 2017 @ 11:34am
      Believe Steve said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:34am | ! Report

      They say it was a success. Maybe if you were a Port Power supporter it might have been. But in the build up to the game they told some porkies! They said it was the very first AFL game to be played outside of Australia but yet the Saints have played 3 games over in NZ before hand. They said the surface was excellent but I seen so many players slipping over. They said there was a huge crowd but I seen so many empty seats and more than 5 thousand fans were Port fans from Australia? They showed some Chinese people in the crowd and they weren’t even watching the game. They were all on their mobile phones and we even seen one Chinese woman yawning. Plus it was a one sided boring game. It was Port Power vs the Witches hats! The Suns didn’t even put up a whimper. Gary Ablett didn’t even train for the game and said he was making a holiday out of his time over there and would even go and see the Great wall of China? Then Ablett doesn’t play a very good game? Was it that he didn’t train for the game and that he was in holiday mode? Anyway I felt it was a very boring game and to get new fans and get people to like Aussie Rules I think they need to experience a game that is very close and has you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. A thriller or a cliff hanger so to speak. I felt that this game was a flop sadly.

      • May 15th 2017 @ 11:47am
        Ken Spacey said | May 15th 2017 @ 11:47am | ! Report

        I don’t care particularly but in fairness many reports did preface with outside of Australasia and first in Asia! The event itself was fairly so so to the casual viewer.

        • May 15th 2017 @ 3:48pm
          Nanco said | May 15th 2017 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

          If you want a close game take Ben Cummins and Gerard Sutton along for the ride…