PORT Adelaide’s head of high performance Darren Burgess will return to the Power for the AFL finals as part of an agreement with English Premier League club Arsenal.
The Power on Monday agreed to release Burgess – who was hand-picked by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger – from the remainder of his contract so he could join the EPL giants next month.
However, Burgess will return to Alberton in late July to supervise the Power’s high performance program for the rest of the home and away season.
As part of the transition terms of the agreement, Burgess will be involved in the Power’s entire finals campaign and return to the club in October and November to plan and implement the Power’s pre-season campaign for the 2018 season.
He will also lead an international search for his successor, undertake daily remote consultation with the Power’s high performance team during the transition period and remain an integral part of the Power’s China high performance program.
Power chief executive Keith Thomas was satisfied to reach an agreement that suited both parties.
“We acknowledge this is a life-changing opportunity for Darren, but what we’ve been able to do is work with Arsenal to enact a transition process, which limits any impact or disruption to our football program for this year, and retain Darren’s expertise for our 2018 planning,” Thomas said.
“We are appreciative of Arsenal’s understanding that the integrity of our football program is the absolute priority for our club.
“To have a club like Arsenal hand-pick Darren is testament to the calibre of our personnel, our football program and ultimately our organisation.”
Thomas will meet with Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis in July to finalise the Power’s international partnership with Arsenal.
Burgess said the opportunity to work with Arsenal was too good to refuse.
“Reaching this decision has been one of the toughest decisions in my professional career,” Burgess said.
“My family loves the lifestyle of Adelaide and more importantly we love everything about the Port Adelaide Football Club.
“When the opportunity came up to return to Port Adelaide, I had no hesitation in returning.
“It’s especially difficult knowing the club is on the right path for sustained success both on and off the field.
“However, the opportunity to return to the English Premier League and work at one of the world’s most successful sporting organisations in Arsenal is an opportunity I simply couldn’t refuse.”