From the  Port Phillip Leader
Reported by Paul Amy,
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PRESIDENT Michael Shulman says Port Melbourne will hold off on contract talks with coach Gary Ayres until the end of the season.

Shulman said Ayres was keen to discuss his future “sooner rather than later’’ but the club believed negotiations should start when Port’s season finished.

Ayres signed a one-year deal a few weeks after the Borough’s stunning 2017 premiership.

The former Hawthorn champion and Geelong and Adelaide coach has been at Port Melbourne since 2008 and is the club’s longest serving coach.

He has built a remarkable record in the VFL, steering Port to two flags and to the finals in nine of his 10 years.

This season the Borough have overcome the departure of decorated players Toby Pinwill, Sam Dwyer, Chris Cain and Hugh Sandilands and the loss of three home fixtures early in the season be seventh on the ladder at 8-6.

Gary Ayres celebrates the 2017 triumph. Picture: Julian Smith/AAP

“I genuinely think one-year contracts are appropriate for coaches, full stop,’’ Shulman said this morning when asked about Ayres’s standing for 2019.

“I met with Gary a couple of weeks ago and said to him essentially that, as a board — and the board has discussed this as well — come the end of the year our job is obviously to assess everything football and we’ll do the normal assessment then. We don’t know when that is. Hopefully we’ll be playing finals and grand finals and all of that. So it’s up for assessment after then and there’s no reason why he wouldn’t be coach and no reason why he would. It’s one to those things where we’ve still got a season to play. So I think it’s far too early to be negotiating next year’s contract.

“I actually promised Gary that within a week of the end of the season, whatever date that might be, we will be discussing where things are. We’re in the current situation of, ‘Well, let’s focus on what we’re here for right now’, which is to make the eight and play finals.

“I’ve got no reason to think we can’t go forward but it’s just not up to me. It’s up to the board and it’s up to Gary as well.’’

Shulman said Ayres would like to “start discussing things sooner rather than later, but I’ve slowed him down a bit and said let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s do what we have to do first and finish the season”.

“He’s positive about the future, so that’s a good starting point,’’ he said.

Shulman said he believed Port Melbourne had performed “very well’’ given the loss of so much experience after last year’s grand final.

Ayres has asked prominent player manager and former AFL star Liam Pickering to become involved in talks with the club.

He said this morning he would prefer not to comment on his contract negotiations