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.
- Port Adelaide wants to wear its prison bar strip at future Showdowns
- A petition has been launched, already attracting 15,000 signatures
- Eddie McGuire says he has referred the push to the AFL’s legal team
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.
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.
“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.
Koch pens letter to ‘avoid confusion’
Koch on Thursday wrote an open letter to Port Adelaide members and supporters in a bid to clarify “several facts” about the club’s bid following its launch of the petition.
He said at no stage did the current board sign a “once and done” agreement with the AFL to enable the club to wear the guernsey in its 150th year.
“In fact, the Collingwood Football Club were prepared for Port Adelaide to wear this guernsey in both 2020 Showdowns, on the condition that we would sign off on it being the last time and no more,” he wrote on the club’s website.
“Subsequently, we refused to sign off on anything preventing us from wearing this guernsey beyond 2020 with ‘the parties agreeing to defer further consideration of that issue to a later point in time’.
“Therefore, we are doing exactly what was agreed, picking up the conversation to be able to wear the black-and-white prison bar guernsey in Showdowns ongoing.”
Koch said he had contacted the AFL and told them to expect the club’s submission soon.