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Returning to Shanghai on SUNS agenda

Gold Coast SUNS Chairman Tony Cochrane says a return to Shanghai would be on the agenda at the club’s June board meeting.

Cochrane said SUNS CEO Mark Evans would prepare a report for the board as the club considers a third match in Shanghai in 2019.

“The Gold Coast SUNS, have done the hard yards of a difficult road over the first two years, and we believe we have an absolute pre-emptive right with the AFL to have a presence in China. That’s certainly our understanding from the AFL Commission and the AFL management that we’ll be given every chance to consider whether we wish to return for a third year,” Cochrane told The Australian.

“It’s been completely pushed to one side that it’s our home game we’re giving up, and because of that we have certain rights. There’s no question that it’s Port Adelaide’s agenda, but we’ve done two very difficult years of a massive exercise for a young club. Not to mention we have consistently been on the road since the start of March, which has stretched us, no question.

“But there’s no question each year we’re gaining in confidence about what we do, and we’ve got a lot to evaluate before we decide that we don’t wish to proceed in future years. Our board has asked Mark Evans to prepare a report on that eventuality and to have that ready for the June board meeting.”

Cochrane said new business opportunities and federal government assistance could act as a catalyst to return to Shanghai next season with Cochrane, encouraged by developments in their China strategy.

The presence of local Federal Member and Minister for Tourism, Trade and Investment, Steven Ciobo, a strong supporter of the SUNS, was a fillip for the club.

“Obviously, the federally controlled Tourism Australia has a huge interest in the game because the Gold Coast is the number one destination of Chinese tourists each year,” Cochrane also told The Australian. 

“The Gold Coast is a very, very strong tourism market for China so it’s important and in the best interest of the federal government to support the game.”

The SUNS also hosted over 250 corporate and business delegates in Shanghai during the week and Minister Ciobo’s presence along with that of Study Gold Coast, Destination Gold Coast and Gold Coast’s Health and Knowledge precinct demonstrated the game meant a lot to the broader Gold Coast.

“They hosted a number of major functions in Shanghai around the game, all of which went exceedingly well.

“So from our point of view it’s very important for the Gold Coast SUNS to do what it can to develop strong relationships in our community and clearly tourism and education are two very important drivers of the Gold Coast economy.”

“it’s a big plus and it will be a big consideration that will be part of Mark’s report on whether we return to Shanghai or not.”