More Power to you, Kochie

Team building: Port Adelaide is undergoing a major overhaul, including enhancing its 'brand' interstate.
Team building: Port Adelaide is undergoing a major overhaul, including enhancing its 'brand' interstate.

AS IS the case with many new leaders, the opening 100 days in charge are full of activity and a desire to leave an early imprint.

Having taken control of a Port Adelaide Football Club which, while rich in history, was fractured, politicised and barely struggling to remain afloat, there has been plenty for new president David Koch to do, while balancing his outside life as a father of four, a grandfather of four and his role as television host and finance guru.

As he settled into an interview with Fairfax Media, it's clear Koch, 56, is happy with the progress the Power has made since he replaced Brett Duncanson last year.

The board has been overhauled, with the likes of former federal minister Amanda Vanstone and journalist Cos Cardone, an executive on Eddie McGuire's television production company, joining.

There is a major focus on spreading the Power brand and connecting with business figures in Sydney and Melbourne, while more resources have been ploughed into the football, fitness and coaching departments led by new coach Ken Hinkley, senior assistant Alan Richardson and highly respected fitness boss Darren Burgess.

About $17.2 million - up an extra $700,000 - will be spent in the football department this season but, as Koch notes, the Power will still rank only 14th in this key area.

''I had a list of things to get done and we have achieved quite a few of those. We have rebalanced the board, which is a good, workable professional board with a good range of skills,'' Koch said.

''We have revolutionised the footy department with Ken and Alan and Darren Burgess coming on board. That is really going way better than we thought it would.

''You might laugh at me in five years' time but the relationship between Ken and Alan Richardson and Darren Burgess, you get the feeling that it could be a group that lasts 10 years at the club. We couldn't have hoped for them to click any better than they have.

''To come to Adelaide to a club that was in turmoil, a footy department that was in turmoil, they have just brought immeasurable factors to it and get on so well together. Ken and Alan are almost like brothers and they have worked together before.''

That relationship will be crucial to rebuilding a club that was at loggerheads last season, with communication between several departments minimal under former coach Matthew Primus.

Challenges, naturally, remain. The Power reported a loss of $2.1 million last season and are working feverishly to secure more financial support.

What will help is when the Power's AFL licence is handed from the SANFL to the AFL Commission. This will mean the AFL will tip in $5 million a year, and have significant control over the member-driven club.

An independent review of the board last year found a more diversified skill set was required, while more was needed to be done to spread the club's imprint interstate. To this end, Koch has helped established business advisory groups in Melbourne and Sydney.

Cardone heads up the Melbourne division, while News Ltd chief executive Kim Williams is a member of the Sydney division. ''We have to make Port Adelaide relevant as a sponsorship opportunity outside of Port Adelaide," Koch said.

''We don't have massive awareness on the eastern seaboard. We have got plans to change that. That's our big priority.''

There have been suggestions outside the club for the Port Adelaide name to be rebadged to encompass a wider feel and supporter base.

Koch, who was born in the north-western Adelaide suburb of Largs Bay and had a father who played for Port in the SANFL during the Fos Williams era, has no such intention.

''A lot of people have talked about that. I don't think the name is an impediment to getting it out there,'' he said.

''Winning footy helps your brand but then there are a whole lot of other elements to it - how you play the game, it's your match-day experience, it's being smarter about all that sort of stuff.

''What I say to sponsors is it's pretty easy to pay bucks to a glamour club and be lost in the stampede of sponsors. A sponsorship of Port Adelaide will probably guarantee you the hardest-working club and make sure you get value for money. We have to because we are in that position.''

The Power hopes to lift membership by 5000 this year, having had just above 35,000 last season, and eventually have 50,000 in the long term.

Sydney-based Koch will commute to Adelaide for matches and board meetings, although he has already frustrated some commentators by revealing he cannot attend Sunday twilight matches at home because of his breakfast television show commitments.

This story More Power to you, Kochie first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.