The Abacus

Port Adelaide Football Club China Strategy


PORT ADELAIDE’S China Engagement strategy is having a significant impact developing a greater appreciation of China‐Australia relations within its extensive supporter base.

It’s a testament to the strength of sport as a diplomatic instrument which can deepen relationships and build connections between nations.

Port Adelaide’s China Engagement Strategy is a nation‐leading example of this, with Chinese business seeking to partner with Port Adelaide. 

Mr Gui Guojie, the founder of property development company Shanghai CRED, has already become a major backer of Port Adelaide, while Ms. Sally Zou – a Chinese national based in Australia who runs Ausgold Mining – has also partnered with the club. 

A survey of Port Adelaide’s supporter base by One2Ten showed:

·         100 per cent of respondents had heard about the club’s work in China, and 60 per cent said it made them more interested in China.

·         98 per cent knew about the upcoming match in Shanghai, and 30 per cent were thinking about attending. 

·         60 per cent said that the match in China made them more interested in travelling there in the future.

·         52 per cent said the club’s involvement in China increased their understanding of China and the Australia‐China relationship.

·         97 per cent said they thought a positive Australia‐China relationship was good for Australia.

Port Adelaide’s chief executive officer Keith Thomas believes sport, and most specifically Australia’s indigenous game, AFL, can help develop popular interest in Australia for China’s vast population, while breaking down cultural barriers within Australia.

“Sport brings Australians together, whether inside a stadium, through an office tipping competition or by gathering around the barbecue on grand final day,” Mr Thomas says.

“And economic links between countries are built on closer diplomatic, cultural and personal relationships. 

“As sport is a great expression of Australian culture, it is a foundation on which new connections with can be forged with other countries, businesses and people.

“Port Adelaide Football Club is a member of ACBC and we have been happy to support their China Strategy,” says ACBC National Chairman, John Brumby AO.

Mr Brumby commented further that, “There is huge potential in sports diplomacy to help bring businesses and communities together across very different cultures.  Port Adelaide has taken the lead in Australian initiatives of this kind—and it’s exciting to see where their China Strategy can take both the club and the game of Aussie Rules.  This survey shows the supporters are on board, and businesses in both Australia and China will be keen to explore the opportunities arising from Port Adelaide’s next steps into China.    

Mr Thomas also said, “Our China Engagement Strategy signals a new era in sports diplomacy in Australia, and we believe it provides Australian business with an unprecedented opportunity to connect with the people of Australia’s largest trading partner.

“Few organisations in world sport have penetrated Chinese business and government so effectively and efficiently – we have been working on this project for just three years – and yet have made the AFL into the first domestic competition to play a ‘points match’ in China, ahead of America’s NBA and NFL.”

For more information on Port Adelaide’s China Engagement Strategy contact Daniel Norton, General Manager – Media on 0419 848 669 or

For more information about ACBC contact Helen Sawczak, National CEO on 0407 362 228 or


To download a copy of the report, please click on the link below.



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