Prison Bars Released from 2020 Onwards

The decades-long debate over Port Adelaide’s famous ‘prison bars’ guernesy has finally reached a resolution, with the Power being granted permission to wear its iconic jumper next season.

Port Adelaide will don the ‘prison bars’ in all home Showdowns against crosstown rivals, the Adelaide Crows from 2020 onwards. AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan and Port Adelaide CEO Keith Thomas are expected to front a media conference to announce the decision in the next two to three weeks.

Clubs need to order their guernesys for next season by the end of the month.

The move comes about after a recent push for Port Adelaide to wear its black and white jumper to celebrate its 150th anniversary season in 2020. Fans launched a petition to bring the jumper, originally worn by Port Adelaide in the SANFL in 1902, as the Power’s permanent home strip.

This proposal gained the support of club board members such as Darren Cahill but the club as a whole did not support this. Instead Port Adelaide sought to wear the guernesy for all Showdowns, home and away, against the Crows.

But as The Mongrel Punt revealed last month, this proposal was doomed due to Collingwood President Eddie McGuire’s disapproval of the concept.

However, Port Adelaide, the AFL – and Collingwood – have agreed to a compromise that sees the ‘prison bars’ being worn on a once a year basis, and never against Collingwood.

The prison bars are a particularly important issue amongst Port Adelaide fans highlighted by the amount of “Bring Back the Bars!” cries that were directed at Gillon McLachlan in Shanghai.

“Kochie is negotiating!” was his response. 

While, the Power were unsuccessful in its plans to wear the bars in both Showdowns each year due to McGuire’s influence, the Collingwood President’s infamous “never again” line has been foiled. This highlights McGuire’s diminishing power over league headquarters, who he is seemingly frequently at odds with of late.

Port Adelaide co-captain Tom Jonas threw this support behind the return of the prison bars in an interview with this author last month.

“I personally love the tradition of being able to wear the prison bars and I’ve noticed there’s a petition getting around, if we can bring it back that’d be great.”

Port Adelaide will also wear its original blue and white hooped jumper, worn from 1870 to 1876, in the AFL next season, on the weekend of its 150th anniversary.

Additionally, the club is fighting to commemorate the anniversary with a new joint logo to be used by both its Power and Magpies teams.  However, one of the logo’s designs has reportedly been blocked by McGuire, who has previously been critical of Port Adelaide using the “Collingwood Magpie.”

Port Adelaide have not worn the prison bars at AFL level since the 2014 Elimination Final against Richmond, but its reserves side in the SANFL continues to wear the jumper every week.

However, uncertainty surrounds the future of the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL due to the imminent AFL national reserves competition that could be introduced as soon as 2021.

This could potentially mean that the club’s 150th anniversary season could be the final ever season for the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL.

The AFL has long been anticipating issues with the independently owned the state leagues, the SANFL and the WAFL, in its plans to establish a reserves league in 2021 or 2022.

The Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide are contracted to participate in the SANFL until the end of 2028, with SANFL CEO Jake Parkinson consistently stating that he expects the two SA clubs to uphold their commitment.

Whereas, the West Coast Eagles have fielded a reserves team in the WAFL for the first time this season while Fremantle’s reserves side is WAFL affiliate, Peel Thunder.

In order to combat problems with the SANFL and WAFL, the AFL has also considered a hybrid 14-team reserves competition model, excluding the teams from South Australia and Western Australia.

However, Adelaide, Port, West Coast and Fremantle would also surely have to have extended AFL squads; a necessity in establishing a national reserves league.

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