Fremantle has no plans to terminate a multimillion-dollar deal with oil and gas giant Woodside despite the Dockers being caught in a growing storm of anti-sponsor movements and a group of high-profile fans urging the club to dump its major sponsor.
It comes in the wake of revelations Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins spoke to Cricket Australia about it’s $40m partnership with Alinta Energy and Australian netballers showed concern over a new $15m partnership with mining group Hancock Prospecting.
In this instance the group of high-profile Fremantle supporters sent an open letter to the board and president Dale Alcock, declaring it was longer appropriate for a fossil fuel company to sponsor the club as the globe grappled with climate change.
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The statement said Woodside, by purchasing BHP’s oil and gas assets, had become “one of the top 10 largest fossil fuel companies in the world”.
“We should not allow our club’s good name to be used by a corporation to enhance its reputation when its core activities are so clearly threatening our planet,” they said.
“Climate change is already creating catastrophic and deadly conditions for communities here and overseas, alongside massive harm to natural systems that support our economy and wellbeing.
“Despite claims it is trying to decarbonise, Woodside has doubled down on fossil fuels in the last year, purchasing BHP’s oil and gas assets and becoming one of the top 10 largest fossil fuel companies in the world.
“As members and supporters, we are speaking out because we don’t think it is fair for these young men and women to run out with a fossil fuel company’s logo plastered on their jumpers any longer.
“We should not allow our club’s good name to be used by a corporation to enhance its reputation when its core activities are so clearly threatening our planet.”
As well as Fremantle legend Dale Kickett, the letter is signed by a raft of high-profile fans, including author Tim Winton and former West Australian premier Carmen Lawrence, who is also Conservation Council WA president.
Woodside has been one of Fremantle’s major sponsors since 2010, on a deal worth at least $1m per season, and last year extended the partnership until the end of the 2023 season.
Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe is among a host of sporting stars who have already signed up to The Cool Down – a group of Australian sportspeople calling for more urgent action on climate change.
But Alcock said while players had expressed their concerns and the club respected “views being put”, there were no plans to terminate the Woodside agreement.
“We are committed to Woodside until our current contract runs out at the end of 2023 and we are committed to that as Woodside are … and we‘re obligated to deliver on that,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
Fremantle is not the only AFL club sponsored by coal or oil and gas companies, with Santos a platinum partner of both Port Adelaide’s women and men’s teams, while AGL, which operates coal-fired power stations, sponsors Port Adelaide, St Kilda and West Coast.