Port Adelaide chairman David Koch has been slammed by AFL journalist Caroline Wilson and former coach Ross Lyon for bending to the will of the club’s fan base.
The Power have had a shocker of a season, the worst under Ken Hinkley’s tenure, leading to calls for the coach’s head.
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
Certain supporters even plastered a “sack Hinkley” poster over a sign near the club’s headquarters last week.
Port Adelaide has just eight wins from 20 matches and sits 12th on the AFL ladder with two rounds remaining.
But while many footy pundits expect Hinkley to still be in charge at Port in 2023, Koch sparked a furore when he appeared to deliver a warning for his coach.
“Obviously this year will be the worst finish that we’ve had in the last 10 years and something’s got to change. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to make some hard decisions,” Koch told FIVEaa on Monday.
“It’s not just about one individual person, it’s the whole program. Turn it around or watch out.
“Every single person’s role will be assessed at the end of the year, as we do each year.”
Speaking on Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Wednesday night, Wilson said Koch’s comments didn’t sit well with everyone at the Power and he will address them this week.
“I gather there will be some comments made regarding what he said on Monday night, comments that really inflamed the football club and really put Ken Hinkley under enormous pressure,” she said.
“I don’t think I know of another footy club in the AFL who is so beholden to their supporters as Port Adelaide.
“What this has done is forced some pretty robust conversations with the chairman and some of his senior people. I think hopefully, for Ken Hinkley’s sake, his job will be guaranteed tomorrow (Thursday) night.
“Until that happens, I’m still not convinced GWS, if they miss out on Alastair Clarkson, won’t make a late play for Ken Hinkley.
“I should also mention Chris Davies, who is the head of footy at Port Adelaide, and a big Ken Hinkley supporter and has put this program together, North (Melbourne) have had a crack at him. They’re not the only club.
“I don’t think Chris Davies will go anywhere as long as Ken Hinkley stays at Port Adelaide. But what an environment to be going into next year.”
Ex-Fremantle and St Kilda coach Lyon said Koch’s comments threatened to divide the club in an attempt to appease outspoken fans.
“I think everyone in the AFL now talks about connection, harmony, environment,” Lyon told Footy Classified. “And David, for the sake of a sugar hit for his supporter base, to make them feel better that we’re ruthless and we’ll turn them over, the damage to the people that work there, grind their way through an AFL season, it’s disappointing.
“It comes from the top. It’s symbolic of how you feel about the people working for you.”
Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd said although it was not the ideal way to share the message, he agreed with Koch’s sentiment.
“He may not should have said that publicly, but I agree with everything he said,” Lloyd said.
“Even if Ken Hinkley stays, what he (Koch) said there, it may have to look at the support staff, recruiting.”
But Lyon argued: “That should be a given you do that every year.
“You don’t need to sugar hit the door publicly and injure your people. He’s injured staff that have committed and for a long period of time have gone close. Not necessary.”
Koch was also slammed earlier in the week by Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes.
“Either make a call or back him (Hinkley) in … ‘turn it around or watch out’, what a ridiculous thing to say,” Cornes told SEN on Tuesday.
“The thing that David Koch needs to do is make a call, is he your coach or is he not your coach?
“And if he’s not your coach, you have to tell him now so that he has the opportunity and you give him the respect to go and find another job.
“There are two vacant coaching jobs right now that Ken Hinkley would absolutely be in the mix for, but he can’t be in the mix for it if he thinks he’s going to be coaching Port Adelaide next year.
“Conversely, if he is your guy and you’ve contracted him for next year, which they have, back him in now. There’s nothing to be learnt in the next two weeks that you don’t already know and you haven’t already discovered in the last 10 weeks.
“It was a stupid thing to say, it sent the media into a spin and it now has everyone questioning if Ken Hinkley will be there next year.”