Port's president sticks with retirement - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Port's president sticks with retirement

By Daniel Brettig 22/08/2008 06:43:09 PM Comments (0)

Port Adelaide's inaugural AFL president Greg Boulton is convinced his decision to retire at the end of this year is the right one, despite the Power's 2008 lurch into uncertainty.

A poor season on the field has been compounded by worryingly thin crowds and pronounced staff turnover at just about every off-field level of the club, but difficult circumstances did not dissuade Port from the long-term plan to have Boulton handing over the presidency to his lieutenant Brett Duncanson on Friday.

Boulton will officially depart after Port's AGM in December, but the club made the point of signalling the start of a new era by unveiling Duncanson and new chief executive Mark Haysman this week, ahead of their final home game of the season against Melbourne.

"The time was right a year or so ago, in that as part of our succession planning I discussed with the board that at the end of this year no matter what happens it is right to change," Boulton said.

"I could've done it longer, but I think sometimes you need to let others enjoy it and take that next step.

"The decision in my mind would be this is the right time, I'm confident some of the issues we're handling, some of the directions we're going are very positive."

Having spent 26 years as a club official, first as vice president, then a board member and finally president of the club since the 1993 season, Boulton has overseen an era of tremendous success but also upheaval.

It included multiple SANFL premierships, a failed 1990 bid to enter the AFL that indirectly resulted in the birth of the Adelaide Crows, and then ultimately the successful admission of Port Adelaide to the national competition in 1997.

Port's on-field success culminated in the 2004 AFL grand final victory over Brisbane, a heady experience that remains Boulton's proudest day.

More difficult times have followed since, and the club now faces the interlocked problems of a team lacking on-field direction, a weakening financial position and a shrinking, disillusioned supporter base.

Power coach Mark Williams appears likely to be gone from the club following the conclusion of his current contract at the end of next year.

"I'm excited about next year, I'm looking forward to coming along and being able to watch the footy and enjoy it, I think we've got an outstanding coach in Mark Williams, an outstanding group of players, great footy support, and quite frankly we can only go up next year," Boulton said.

Tellingly, Boulton pointed to Port's notional estimate of total supporters when asked about the future of a crowd that has shrunk alarmingly in 2008, rather than the official membership figure (34,185) which appears likely to slide dramatically next year.

"We know we've got a significant supporter base of about 340-350,000, compared to perhaps the bigger clubs like Collingwood at 650,000," he said.

"I don't think our supporter base overnight is going to jump to 600,000, I say jokingly to people it's like changing religions - people don't do it very easily, your parents influence what you do, it's a very long-term issue.

"I think we'll get (supporters) back by a lot of issues; one you perform better off the field and clearly people come back, I think that's reality."

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