Footystats Diary, footy's best kept secret, Carlton FC Crisis file

Footy's best kept secret ...

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The Carlton FC crisis

The Carlton Football Club and in particular Mr John Elliott have been the subject of fierce media attention over several years.

This compilation of nearly 200 pieces covers many references relating to the subject with the first 100 appearing by the end of November 2002.

The story has many conclusions including veteran commentator TIM LANE, writing on the last day a League match was played at Princes Park in 2005.

Farewell to Princes Park – was not the closure one had expected ...

October 31, 2000

PATRICK SMITH, The Australian, October 31 — When Essendon were fined more than $250,000 last year for salary payment breaches, Carlton president John Elliott called them cheats. He shouldn't have done that. Silly man.

Elliott also demanded that since Essendon's fiddling with the books included 1993 — the year the Bombers beat Carlton for the AFL premiership — Essendon should hand that premiership over to Carlton. Elliott shouldn't have said that either. Silly, silly man.

Today the AFL will announce that Carlton have been fined more than $100,000 for breaches of the total player payment rules in 1998. Part of the penalty also provides for Carlton to be fined again and lose draft picks if they re-offend. So far their dealings for 1999 and 2000 have passed AFL scrutiny.

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DARRYL TIMMS, Herald Sun, October 31 — Carlton has been fined and suspended from next month's pre-season draft after being found guilty of making a hefty undisclosed payment to captain Craig Bradley – it is understood Carlton paid Bradley about $130,000 which was not shown in the club's salary cap.

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MICHAEL DAVIS, ANDREW RAMSAY, The Australian,
November 1, on the Carlton salary cap breach —
And to make matters worse for the Blues, the AFL did not need to call in Sherlock Holmes to uncover the rort. It is understood the breach was revealed in handwritten notes left attached to documents by a Blues office staff member and later delivered to the AFL.

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October 31, 2000

Salary cap breaches
Carlton caught out again
Blues fined $172,728

An A bomb went off in League circles on October 31 when the AFL revealed the Carlton club had been found to have breached the salary cap in 1998. It was the club's third salary cap fine since 1992.

The League fined the Blues $172,728 for the breach and $10,000 in relation to lodgement of additional services agreements for the 1999 season. $57,576 of the fines have been suspended and will be paid only if the club re-offends before the end of the 2003 season. The Blues must pay $125,152 by the end of November.

Though only the raw details were made public, Carlton will be barred from the pre-season draft on December 19 and will lose picks in rounds two and three of the 2001 National Draft

With the words of Carlton's JOHN ELLIOTT still ringing in his ears that the Bombers "cheated" to win the 1993 flag, Essendon president GRAEME McMAHON labelled his arch-rivals as "serial salary-cap offenders".

While Elliott was tight-lipped after Carlton issued a short media statement, he told Channel 10 — "It's a highly technical matter. One can debate our view is we didn't breach the cap. We've reach an accommodation with the AFL so the matter's closed."

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November 21, 2000

Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT lost his driving licence for two years on Monday (20th) after being convicted of a drink driving charge. Mr Elliott had pleaded guilty to refusing to remain at a breath test station for a breath test. He was found to have alcohol in his blood when pulled over on Royal Parade about 8.30pm on Saturday, June 17. Mr Elliott was also fined $500 and ordered to pay $35 costs.

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November 28, 2000

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is suing businessman JOHN ELLIOTT and two other directors (WILLIAM HARRISON and BERNARD PLYMIN) of companies running the Waterwheel mill at Bridgewater in central Victoria. The civil action is due to be heard in the Supreme Court on December 15.

ASIC alleges they let the companies incur debts after becoming insolvent, and is seeking up to $5 million compensation on behalf of secured creditors and each director be fined up to $400,000. The Herald Sun on November 28 reported: In a brief official statement, Mr Elliott blasted the court action as "unwarranted, unfounded and gratuitous".

Mr Elliott has been a director of the Carlton FC and its president since October 1983.

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December 8, 2000

WAYNE HOWELL, Herald Sun, December 8 —
Carlton Football Club president John Elliott is up to $5 million poorer after the Federal Court all but ended his marathon law suit against the National Crime Authority and others yesterday.

The blow to the outspoken businessman's coffers comes about five months after Mr Elliott sold his English-style Toorak mansion for a record $11.1 million.

Justice Donnell Ryan yesterday rejected Mr Elliott's bid to continue his eight-year fight against the NCA.

Mr Elliott took legal action against the NCA in 1993, alleging its investigation and prosecution of him on charges of stealing $66.5 million through a sham foreign exchange deal was politically inspired.

The only legal action Justice Ryan allowed Mr Elliott to continue was his claim that Mr Crabb committed "misfeasance in a public office" by allegedly leaking the NCA's investigation of Mr Elliott to the ABC.

He ordered Mr Elliott to pay the court costs of all the parties, including Mr Crabb's -- a total believed to be between $3 million and $5 million.

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December 23, 2000

CEO resigns at Carlton

JOHN GURRIERI, chief executive officer of Carlton FC for only a year announced his resignation effective February 16. Mr Gurreiri resigned for personal and family reasons.

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Thursday, January 11, 2001

The Age reported on January 11: Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT supported the AFL in its current dispute with the MCG Trust which is seeking a bigger slice of the AFL's $500 million television rights revenue.

Elliott, who also said that the Blues would only play "a minimum" of games at the MCG until planned development to the stands were completed, argued broadcasting should remain within the control of the AFL.

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Saturday, February 3, 2001

Don Hanly is new Carlton CEO

With a background of a quarter of a century in football administration, DON HANLY is the new CEO of the Carlton club. Blues president JOHN ELLIOTT announced the appointment on February 2.

The 46-year-old Hanly spent 20 years with the League before his six seasons as CEO at Moorabbin. He was one of several casualties during the clean out which the St Kilda club went under last October. Hanly who starts with the Blues on Wednesday (7th) replaces JOHN GURRIERI who resigned in December after heading the Carlton administration for only 10 months.

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Saturday, March 10, 2001

A test-case judgement against STEPHEN OLIVER who played 14 senior games with Carlton in 1993-94 has resulted in the former player being penalised nearly $23,000 by the Australian Tax Office for underpaying tax.

The Carlton FC was accused in a federal Administrative Appeal Tribunal judgment of contriving with player-manager PETER JESS to breach the AFL salary cap with secret payments to players.

The tribunal's written decision quoted Mr Jess as saying Carlton had sought advice from him specifically for the purpose of disguising payments from the football payments commissioner.

At least six Carlton players including Brownlow Medallist GREG WILLIAMS and two Collingwood players are believed to have been issued with assessments for allegedly unpaid tax.

GEOFF WILKINSON reported in The Herald Sun on Saturday (10th): Carlton could be hit with a bill of up to $500,000 for unpaid fringe benefits tax if the Oliver decision is applied in all outstanding cases.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2001

A parcel of shares in the North Melbourne club purchased by Carlton in 1992 have been sold to Kanga white-knight JOHN MAGOWAN; the Roo board member paid $150,000.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2001

STEPHEN RIELLY & GREG DENHAM, The Age, March 21, 2001 —
Carlton president John Elliott yesterday claimed to have held merger talks with the Kangaroos in 1999. Elliott said he had ''extensive discussions'' with Roos' chairman, the late Ron Casey, about a merger mid-way through the season.

''We actually decided in the middle of the year that we'd seriously get down to it at the end of the season and the odd thing was Carlton finished up playing North Melbourne in the grand final,'' Elliott said yesterday on Sport 927.

''We put it on ice because it was too hard again ... It would have been too hard to pull off. If two teams play off in the grand final, are the AFL going to sanction those two teams to do a merger?

''It was one of those odd years when Carlton finished playing North Melbourne in the grand final, so we had to call it off again.''

The Kangaroos dismissed Elliott's merger claims and described them as fanciful.

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Monday, March 26, 2001

Carlton fines three players

The Carlton club on Monday (26th) moved swiftly to deal with a widely publicised incident involving players MATTHEW LAPPIN, BRENDAN FEVOLA and ANDREW MERRINGTON.

Lappin and Merrington were arrested by police early on Friday morning and later charged for being drunk in a public place after a series of incidents at Victoria University's campus at Maidstone. They spent four hours in a cell. The two were bailed and are due to appear in Sunshine Court on April 9.

Fevola who was not arrested is alleged to have sprayed a woman in the face with a fire extinguisher and tried to fight security guards.

Carlton club president JOHN ELLIOTT described the drunken rampage as pathetic and embarrassing behaviour. The club did not suspend the three players but imposed a fine, ordered them to complete community development work, attend alcohol and anger management courses and do extra training sessions.

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Charges of being drunk in a public place against Carlton players MATTHEW LAPPIN and ANDREW MERRINGTON were dismissed in Sunshine Magistrates' Court on April 9. The charges resulted from incidents at Victoria University in the early hours of March 23. Neither player was in court to hear their charges dismissed.

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DARYL TIMMS, Herald Sun, March 28, 2001 —
Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT has renewed hostilities with Essendon on the eve of the season, labelling Bomber premiership coach Kevin Sheedy a twerp.

Fresh from calling the behaviour of a few Blue boys "pathetic" earlier in the day, Elliott was at his provocative best at the club's guernsey presentation night on Monday.

At same function last year, Elliott called Sheedy a "s...".

The Herald Sun noted the Macquaire Dictionary defined: TWERP (colloquial noun): An insignificant or stupid person.


DAVID BURTENSHAW, The Advertiser, May 24, 2001 —
South Australian great BARRIE ROBRAN did not deserve to be in the Australian Football Hall of Fame, outspoken Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT said yesterday.

The millionaire businessman told a lunch at the North Melbourne Social Club that two other South Australians – MALCOLM BLIGHT and STEPHEN KERNAHAN – should have received a "Legend of the Game" honour ahead of triple Magarey Medal-winner Robran.


MICHELANGELO RUCCI, The Advertiser, May 29, 2001 —
Controversial Carlton president John Elliott has been dumped as a guest speaker at an official SANFL luncheon because of a slur against new Australian football legend Barrie Robran.

Mr Elliott was to have been SANFL president Max Basheer's guest speaker on Friday, August 10, the eve of the Crows-Carlton match at Football Park.

But SANFL chief executive Leigh Whicker wrote to Mr Elliott yesterday, withdrawing the invitation to the monthly function that usually attracts 400 paying guests.

Mr Basheer, a member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame selection committee, said Mr Elliott's presence was now inappropriate.

"Inappropriate in all circumstances," he said. "Inappropriate certainly after an outburst against one of our game's truest champions."

Mr Elliott, however, will face his first SA audience at a Port Adelaide Magpies vice-president's dinner on July 13.

The Magpies yesterday chose to keep Mr Elliott as guest speaker for the $50-a-head function at the Port Club at the Port club at Alberton Oval.


MARK FULLER, The Age, Sunday, June 2, 2001 —
Carlton president John Elliott yesterday sought to set the record straight over his criticism of Barrie Robran's elevation to AFL legend status.

Elliott said that players who had not starred at the highest level should not be admitted until the year 3000 when the league was "scraping the barrel''.

If Elliott's comments, made at the president's lunch before the Carlton-West Coast match at Optus Oval, were intended as an apology, it is likely they have failed.


Tuesday, June 18, 2001

Carlton players and their friends were twice evicted by police from a Brunswick hotel on June 3, the day following a win over West Coast. The club has investigated the incidents, which included the theft of a small quantity of alcohol. Players named by the Herald Sun were Matthew Lappin, Brendan Fevola and Michael Mansfield. The Carlton club said the players who were not inebriated on the night will not be disciplined as a result of the incident.

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MICHELANGELO RUCCI, The Advertiser, June 22, 2001 —
Robran became the first legend without VFL or AFL experience, prompting Elliott to declare his legend status ''without playing at the highest level'' as a ''disgrace''. He also is the first South Australian to become a legend in the Hall of Fame.

''I do not wish to demean or devalue the Hall of Fame by getting into a debate with John Elliott,'' said Robran, who played 201 SANFL games with North Adelaide and repeatedly ignored offers to play in the VFL. ''I think I will not miss out on anything if I have to live out the rest of my life without John Elliott's approval. I can live quite happily without his approval."


Sunday, July 8, 2001

The Sunday Herald Sun reported on page 3 – Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT, three months shy of his 60th birthday will return to the football field to fulfil a dream.

On Saturday, July 27, Elliott will play his 250th game for amateur club Old Carey, with which he created a fearsome reputation in his younger days.

"I'll be in the reserves, playing as a forward pocket. I won't be running around much, but that way I can help out and maybe get a few handballs off."

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The Herald Sun, July 30, 2001, caption to a two-page colour photo spread "Jack's Back" — Everything was new – socks, boots, shorts, guernsey — except the body.

Then again, if you're playing for a team which calls itself "Old", then being the oldest member of the team is no small feat.

John Elliott, 59, stripped for Old Carey for the 250th time on Saturday and managed 1 quarters in the reserves clash against St Leo's Emmaus Wattle Park in D grade amateurs.

Big Jack didn't have a possession in the team's 13th loss for the season, but who's counting?  The club's more than happy to count the $10,000 a sponsor shelled out for the game.


Wednesday, September 19, 2001

BRENDAN FEVOLA and RYAN HOULIHAN were fined by Carlton for allegedly trying to steal jackets at a North Melbourne dry-cleaning store on Tuesday morning. The drunken behaviour by the two senior players is the third such incident in seven months involving Fevola, requiring police attention. Fevola was fined $8000 by the Blues and must undertake 30 hours of community service. Houlihan was fined $5000 and must attend at his cost an alcohol management course in addition to 10 hours community service work. A statement from Carlton expressed extreme disappointment and embarrassment to the behaviour of the two players.


Monday, December 10, 2001

Carlton's modest $50,000 profit

After paying interest of the $9 million balance it owed on the Legends Stand at Princes Park, Carlton has recorded a modest profit of $50,000 from its 2001 football operations.

The Herald Sun reported the Blues however will pocket about $500,000 profit made by their social club. Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT said his club was down about $200,000 on last year.

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Sunday, April 9, 2002

John Elliott on Wayne Brittain, on the record —

"... he's safe. I have great faith in Wayne Brittain having a long-term future at Carlton. We've got full confidence in him. At Carlton we don't say those things and then sack the coach ..."


Sunday, June 2, 2002

<> Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun reports: A series of prominent businessmen with Carlton Football Club connections have been approached as possible successors to JOHN ELLIOTT.  Adding to Elliott's worries is a call for his resignation by dual premiership fullback and Carlton great GEOFF SOUTHBY in another blow to the Blues president's re-election hopes. Businessmen, including pokies king BRUCE MATHIESON, have been asked by people representing the club if they would be willing to tackle Elliott. Other identities include Graham Smorgon, chairman of Smorgon Steel, Carlton premiership captain and a director of Hastings Fund Management Mike Fitzpatrick, and Mayne boss Peter Smedley.

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Monday, July 29, 2002

<> Kangaroo coach DENIS PAGAN on the weekend gave the first public indication of his dissatisfaction to what his club is offering for him to continue at Arden Street. Some four or five weeks ago, Pagan called off negotiations until the end of the year. The cash-strapped Roos are aiming to cut Pagan's fee by about 44 per cent, around $300,000 – he said "the offer that was made is not acceptable."

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Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Kangaroos and Pagan closer to pay deal


The Kangaroos and coach DENIS PAGAN moved closer to a new contract in talks on Tuesday described as "positive".

Pagan and his management met with board members Allen Aylett, Kerry Good and Robert Smith.

CAROLINE WILSON in The Age on Wednesday reported PETER DE RAUCH, a former Kangaroos' board member is understood to be working in the background on media contracts for Pagan that could involve a television deal with one of the AFL's broadcast partners.

Pagan was assured yesterday that the club was determined to raise the funds to retain him.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

<> Carlton are aiming to put all players coming out of contract on performance-based deals – up to 12 players have deals ending this season – Herald Sun, August 7 ...


Friday, August 9, 2002

<> Pressure is building at Carlton where a group of disgruntled supporters calling themselves "unofficial selectors" are collecting 100 signatures to force an election of the Carlton board at the end of the season – the petition will be circulating on Saturday when Port Adelaide play the Blues at Princes Park.

In the meantime, added pressure has fallen on president JOHN ELLIOTT. Docklands have refused a new one-year deal for Carlton to play home games there next year. The Docklands administration require the Blues to commit for a much longer term than just another 12 months. If the stand off continues, Carlton may be forced to play most of its home games at — Carlton. The crowd average this season at Princes Park has sunk to a new low of just 13,394.

Friday, August 9, 2002

ANOTHER UNWANTED RECORD FOR THE BLUES ...

<> The Blues have claimed its first wooden spoon and another unwanted record.

Carlton have reigned over Princes Park for the past 100 years – the notable exceptions were in 1964 (the year before Barassi arrived) when they won just three home matches and had one draw. The same lack of success was also felt in 1923 and 1924, but in all other seasons for a century, the Blues won four or more matches at home and on many occasions, a maximum of nine victories.

The lowest point of success for Carlton was in the first five years of the VFL competition. Starting from when the first League match was played at Princes Park on Tuesday, June 22, 1897 (a public holiday for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee) the matches in the first three seasons brought just six victories and one draw.

The match against the "newest kids on the block" Port Adelaide brought another unwanted record for the proud Carlton FC — a season in which they failed to win a single game at Princes Park.

 


Sunday, August 11, 2002

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Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT may escape the wrath of supporters after BRUCE MATHIESON, a candidate for presidency backed away from making a challenge. Elliott on Saturday said that like the Queen, who recovered strongly from her annus horribilis in 1992, Carlton will also rebound to again reign supreme.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

<> The embattled Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT faces problems on several fronts. Yesterday (14th), the National Australia Bank called in receivers and managers to Australian Rice Holdings Pty Ltd, which is half-owned by Mr Elliott's interests and the American-based Disney family. The collapse of Australian Rice Holdings is the third time in six months that company doctors have been appointed to companies associated with Mr Elliott. Solicitors for the beleaguered Carlton FC president have filed papers in the Federal Court trying to stop a trial involving Mr Elliott that was due to start in the Supreme Court next week – The West Australian, August 15.

Friday, August 16, 2002

Mathieson to challenge Elliott

Businessman BRUCE MATHIESON has declared he will definitely head a ticket to challenge the presidency of JOHN ELLIOTT at Carlton.

The Age reported Friday (16th) that Mathieson, who is yet to meet with the Carlton board, said he was hoping for a bloodless transition, but felt it was time "something was done".

Elliott has been president of the Blues since 1983.

Only 100 signatures were needed to call an extraordinary meeting – a group known known as the "unofficial selection committee" has collected the signatures of 928 members.


Saturday, August 17, 2002

<> Carlton members have lodged a petition calling for a spill of the board. Validity of signatures is being sought by chief executive DON HANLY – signatures of 100 voting-rights members are required for an extraordinary general meeting. The Carlton board is expected to consider the petition on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT has failed in his bid to stave off a Supreme Court trial due to begin on Monday. The action by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission arises from the $7 million collapse of Mr Elliott's rice milling company, Water Wheel Holdings. The Federal Court ruled on Friday that Elliott should stand trial for allegedly allowing a company of which he was a director to trade while insolvent. If found guilty, he would no longer be permitted to hold directorships, including his position at Carlton FC.


Monday, August 19, 2002

<> Former Carlton players MIKE FITZPATRICK, DAVID McKAY and businessman GRAHAM SMORGAN have emerged as part of the ticket that BRUCE MATHIESON offers in his challenge to the presidency of JOHN ELLIOTT. The prospect of a spill will be discussed at the monthly meeting of the Carlton board tomorrow night.


Tuesday, August 20, 2002

<> CAROLINE WILSON reports in The Age (20th) that DENIS PAGAN and Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper could join forces from next season as part of a two-year agreement that would help keep the Kangaroos coach at Arden Street. One of the club's biggest shareholders, PETER DE RAUCH, is believed to have approached senior management at the newspaper with a view to supplement Pagan's contract with a regular column worth between $50,000 and $100,000 a year.


Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Elliott survives as Carlton president
Ken Hunter resigns from board

JOHN ELLIOTT remains president of Carlton FC following the board meeting on Tuesday night. Put to the vote, the endangered chief is reported to have received approval of his stay by nine votes to one, with one abstention.

Former Carlton player KEN HUNTER who voted against the proposal, quickly departed from the meeting. Board member GEORGE VARLAMOS abstained.

Reports indicate that an extraordinary general meeting sort by petition from almost 1000 members is likely to be held at the beginning of October, where the possibility of a no-confidence vote in the current board will be sought.

Current board members and when they began serving —
1978 – Wes Lofts
1978 – Kevin Hall
1980 – Peter Kerr
1983 – John Elliott
1989 – George Varlamos
1993 – Ken Hunter
1993 – Barry Stones
1997 – Stephen Kernahan
2000 – Barry Armstrong
2000 – Colin De Lutis
2001 – Greg Williams


Saturday, August 24, 2002

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CAROLINE WILSON writes in The Age (24th) that the petition of 928 signatures has been accepted by Carlton FC and an extraordinary meeting will be held on October 9 – members have until October 1 to register for their vote to be valid. It has also been noted that the original petition only called for a vote of no confidence in the board rather than specifically calling for a spill of all board members.


Thursday, August 29, 2002

<> GEORGE VARIAMOS, a Carlton director for 13 years has resigned from the board of the Carlton FC after forming the view "that the club needs a new president". Variamos abstained when a vote on the presidency of JOHN ELLIOTT was taken on August 20. That night, another board member, KEN HUNTER resigned.


Friday, August 30, 2002

<> COACH WATCH — Carlton board member STEPHEN KERNAHAN has thrown his support behind coach WAYNE BRITTAIN as speculation over TERRY WALLACE intensifies – Brittain is contracted for another season – Carlton and Elite Sports Properties, the management group representing Wallace, have denied any discussions have taken place ... the Kangaroos presented a new offer to DENIS PAGAN on Thursday – his current three-year deal is believed to be worth $2 million ...

Saturday, August 31, 2002

<> COACH WATCH — The Herald Sun reports (31st) the new Kangaroo contract presented to DENIS PAGAN involves four different income streams, including the likelihood he will write for Australia's biggest-selling newspaper ...

Monday, September 2, 2002

<> COACH WATCH – Blues president JOHN ELLIOTT scotched rumours about RODNEY EADE, telling 3AW on Sunday – "He won't be coaching Carlton" ...


Friday, September 6, 2002

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Former Carlton and AFL powerbroker IAN COLLINS is almost certain to contest the Carlton FC elections, possibly as president – he has refused to rule himself out of seeking a position on the board – Herald Sun, Sept. 6 ...

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Tuesday, September 10, 2002

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STEPHEN SILVAGNI has added his name with former premiership players IAN COLLINS, DAVID McKAY and KEN HUNTER on a ticket to unseat current president JOHN ELLIOTT. The anti-Elliott ticket which has also won the endorsement from three of the club's most famous names, JOHN NICHOLLS, ALEX JESAULENKO and MIKE FITZPATRICK, will be launched on Thursday, shortly before the Carlton best-and-fairest count. The Blues are expected to post a loss on the season, somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Coach Watch
Pagan has two choices – Roos or Blues
Swans say Wallace still in the mix

The Carlton FC made a powerful play for the services of Kangaroo coach DENIS PAGAN when they met with him on Tuesday at the Collins Street offices of president JOHN ELLIOTT.

Also attending at the 90 minute meeting were Carlton's chief executive DON HANLY and directors WES LOFTS and STEPHEN KERNAHAN.

Carlton are understood to have offered Pagan $2.4 million over three years – at $800,000 a season.

Pagan must decide between the Carlton offer and that put on the table by the Kangaroos. The most successful coach of North Melbourne is set to resume discussions with Roo chairman ALLEN AYLETT and chief executive GEOFF WALSH at the club this morning (Wednesday). The Roo deal proposes that should he stay at Arden Street, Pagan's future income would be to coach, write 14 articles for the Herald Sun newspaper, work for five Kangaroo coterie members, as well as the club's major sponsor.

Following the meeting with Pagan, embattled president JOHN ELLIOTT stated to the media, "He is the only person we will talk to and if he doesn't come to Carlton, we'll stay with Wayne Brittain."

In other moves, RICHARD HINDS reporting in The Age writes today: TERRY WALLACE remained a contender for the Sydney job, despite strong speculation the club had gone cold on the former Western Bulldogs coach and Wallace's statement that he was considering taking a year out of the game, Swans chairman RICHARD COLLESS said yesterday.

Colless said talks with Wallace and his management in Melbourne on Monday had simply been the "next phase" in the interview process. Colless said caretaker coach PAUL ROOS' hopes of taking the Sydney job had not been harmed by his willingness to talk to the Bulldogs about their vacancy.

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Thursday, September 12, 2002

Denis Pagan to coach Carlton

DENIS PAGAN severed his ties with the North Melbourne-Kangaroos on Wednesday.

The Roos' most successful coach is set to sign with Carlton on a three-year deal believed to be worth $2.4 million..

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Friday, September 13, 2002

John Elliott on Wayne Brittain, on the record —

September 13, 2002:

Herald Sun
reported (page 126) by Michael Stevens: Carlton president John Elliott said yesterday the Blues had wanted Denis Pagan to replace Wayne Brittain for the past month.

But the Blues waited until the Kangaroos season finished before making a move.

"Our season came to a long, slow end," Elliott said. "It had us thinking that if Denis did become available, he'd be the person we'd like to get.

"(But) we did not speak to Denis until his season ended, and we had our first meeting three days ago."

Elliott said he did not want to tell Brittain of the deal until Pagan agreed to a three-year contract, signed late on Wednesday afternoon (Sept 11).

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Friday, September 13, 2002

<> IAN COLLINS formally launched his challenge for the Carlton FC presidency on Thursday at Docklands Stadium. Under the *Carlton One* banner, Collins boasts the support of former players STEPHEN SILVAGNI, DAVID McKAY, KEN HUNTER, as well as prominent Melbourne businessman GRAHAM SMORGON and hotelier BRUCE MATHIESON. At his press conference, Collins aimed his strongest criticisms to JOHN ELLIOTT, for his personal behaviour and general business practices in that, "Elliott's autocratic style and public image have tarnished the club's reputation and position."

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

<> The Age reports Carlton is under investigation for possible salary-cap breaches. Meanwhile, the Blues have given written permission for displaced coach WAYNE BRITTAIN to hold talks with other clubs interested in acquiring his services.

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Saturday, September 21, 2002

<> COACH WATCH — The Age on Saturday reports the displaced Carlton coach WAYNE BRITTAIN has completed interviews with both the Bulldogs and the Kangaroos – he met Arden Street officials on Friday – the Roos so far have interviewed Essendon assistants ROBERT SHAW and MARK HARVEY (who has since pulled out), former Sydney coach RODNEY EADE and Melbourne assistant BRIAN ROYAL ...

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Friday, September 27, 2002

<> Carlton have started their cull – first to be delisted – TRENT HOTTON, SAM CRANAGE, LINDSAY SMITH and SEAN O'KEEFE ...


Saturday, September 28, 2002

<> The Age reported on Saturday: The Carlton clean-out has claimed another victim, with MICHAEL MANSFIELD unwanted by the Blues but unable to reach an amicable settlement, denying the dual All-Australian a chance to say farewell at today's grand final parade of retiring players. Mansfield has a year to run on the four-year contract he signed after being dumped by Geelong at the end of 1999, but it is believed he is not prepared to accept the reduced payout offered by the Blues.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Brittain payout may reach court

STEPHEN RIELLY reports in The Age (3rd) that displaced Blues coach WAYNE BRITTAIN appears to be heading to the courts against Carlton, to attach a claim for damages and loss of earnings to the termination payment he is seeking from the Blues.

Brittain, who was overlooked by both the Western Bulldogs and the Kangaroos was contracted for about $300,000 in 2003, but Carlton's payout could be as little as the difference between that figure and any amount he may have earned elsewhere. Brittain and his management believe he is entitled not only to full payment of the final year of his contract but added compensation of as much as several hundred thousand dollars for the loss of future earnings and damage to his reputation as a coach.


Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Silvagni asked for financial records

The Age says former Carlton champion STEPHEN SILVAGNI has been drawn into the AFL investigation of the club's payments. STEPHEN RIELLY reports, the move complicates Silvagni's role in the challenge to the board of president JOHN ELLIOTT.

Silvagni, who retired at the end of 2001, received a written request from Carlton for financial records of his final years with the club – a request understood to have been refused in writing.

Silvagni is the third of as many as six Carlton players who have been asked for their financial records in the past fortnight, with FRASER BROWN and STEPHEN REILLY also asked to cooperate with the investigation.

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Friday, October 4, 2002

Carlton moves ahead of extraordinary meeting

An extraordinary meeting of the Carlton FC will be held at Moonee Valley Racecourse next Wednesday, starting at 7pm. About 5600 members have registered to vote and will be asked to endorse or reject a vote of no-confidence in the Carlton board. The Elliott camp is confident of winning the election, believing that the momentum has turned its way following the signing of new coach DENIS PAGAN.

Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT is expected to announce today the appointment of 46-year-old COLIN DE LUTIS as a new vice-president of the Blues. De Lutis, a board member for three years is the man anointed by Elliott to be the next president. Elliott if re-elected plans to step down at the end of 2003.

October 4

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Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Carlton process "a bloody mess"

Carlton members who are entitled to vote at the extraordinary meeting set for Wednesday (9th) face the prospect of up to three meetings and three ballots lasting until December.

The convoluted process to change the current board and its president John Elliott goes through the first challenge tomorrow night. But even if the vote to evict the office holders succeeds, the board will be legally entitled to remain, as the motion submitted by the *Unofficial Selection Committee* does not specifically call for the removal of the board.

PAUL GOUGH at *afl.com.au* explains that a second vote, to be held on November 12, calls for the removal of Elliott and each of the Blues' other eight current directors and will call for them to be replaced by the 10 members of presidential challenger Ian Collins' *Carlton One* ticket.

And to complete what is a complicated process, a third of whichever combination of directors is elected on November 12, will face re-election at the Blues' annual general meeting which will be held in December.

ABC Online reports a Supreme Court hearing over allegations of vote-stacking at Carlton has been postponed until today (Tuesday). The group led by IAN COLLINS, who is challenging the presidency on the *Carlton One* ticket, claims 1700 names were added to a voting list. A court order is being sought to investigate whether the additions to the voting list are legitimate.

Currently, only 5660 of the total Carlton membership of 26,385 are entitled to vote.

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Wayne Brittain sues Carlton

Sacked Carlton coach WAYNE BRITTAIN has launched a Supreme Court writ against the Blues.

Brittain is claiming loss of salary between December 1, 2002 and November 30, 2003, which documents put at $320,000, plus "out-of-pocket expenses" of $4000 in damages, interest and whatever else the court regards as appropriate.

A report in The Age says: According to the documents, Brittain's manager Damien Smith received a notice of termination in writing on September 16, four days after the Blues had secured the services of DENIS PAGAN as coach to replace Brittain. The writ said Brittain had suffered a "loss of reputation and publicity". The Blues have 10 days to reply.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Court action continues

Carlton will be back in the Supreme Court today, before another judge.

Justice Bernard Bongiorno disqualified himself from the case on Tuesday afternoon, after declaring his association with Carlton president John Elliott.

The *Carlton One* group is seeking an injunction against the club's vice-president and Mr Elliott's heir apparent Colin De Lutis.

In advance of the extraordinary meeting to be held tonight (Wednesday), the group wants the vice-president to formally declare the number of memberships he purchased, after more than 1,000 names were added to the club's voting list last week.

*Carlton One* claims the rush of voters amounts to branch-stacking.

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Thursday, October 10, 2002

Carlton board battle
No-confidence vote carried 1776 votes to 852

More than 2000 Carlton members carried a no-confidence motion against the current administration, 1776 votes to 852, at the extraordinary meeting held on Wednesday night at Moonee Valley Racecourse.

JOHN ELLIOTT however told the meeting he intends to stay as president beyond another meeting planned for November 12, until the entire board goes to a vote at the AGM on December 10.

Last night's two and-a-half hour meeting brought on by the *Unofficial Selection Committee* (USC) succeeded in their aims. However, legally, the incumbent board are not required to step down as the motion did not specifically call for their removal.

The Age reports: IAN COLLINS, the former player and club chief executive heading the *Carlton One* ticket, immediately placed the meeting scheduled on November 12 back on the agenda after Elliott attempted to render it unnecessary with his revelation the club would save $70,000 for not holding the November meeting.

Collins suggested motives were less pure. *Carlton One* lodged a request for the November meeting on September 13 with the constitutionally required number of members. "John is still playing his games," Collins said. "The members have called it and it will be held."

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Saturday, October 12, 2002

Carlton board battle
Elliott wants November 12 meeting shelved
The Age reports club debt was $10.1m in 2001
Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT is strongly advocating the need to call off a second extraordinary meeting of the club on November 12, saying it would be a waste of time and money.

The Elliott administration which was strongly rebuffed by the membership on Wednesday night with a no-confidence motion  – 1776 votes to 852 – is recommending the *Carlton One* ticket headed by former Blues CEO Ian Collins, should formally challenge the current board, along with anyone else who wishes to nominate, at the club's AGM on December 10.

Elliott is hoping to meet members of the Carlton One ticket over the weekend.

The Age today (12th) reveals the combined ledgers of the football club and the Carlton Cricket and Football Social Club showed long and short-term debt at the end of 2001 stood at $10.1 million.

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Monday, October 14, 2002

Trading period may be postponed

The five-day trading period planned for October 24-28 may be postponed pending the conclusion of the AFL investigation into salary cap breaches by the Carlton club.

The Age reports AFL football operations manager ANDREW DEMETRIOU said on Saturday during Channel Nine's telecast of the Richmond-Essendon exhibition match from The Oval in London that the League was considering delaying the pre-draft trading period, although he ruled out the possibility of the November 24 national draft also being rescheduled.

Carlton as wooden spooner has the first two draft picks and already are under the suspended provision of a loss of second and third-round draft picks for a previous cap violation.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2002

October 24-28 trading time to remain

The AFL late Tuesday announced the pre-draft trading period scheduled for October 24-28 will not be moved.

It had been thought the period may have been moved to a time in early November to allow the League to complete its investigation into possible salary cap breaches by the Carlton club.

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Friday, October 18, 2002

Supreme Court decides

Carlton's November 12 meeting will proceed

Justice Marilyn Warren in the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled Carlton club members had overwhelmingly lost confidence in their board and were entitled to replace the current directors if they wanted.

A spill of all positions will take place on November 12. The judgement means three members of the new board will face re-election, three weeks later at the annual general meeting on December 10.

Presidential challenger IAN COLLINS said: "The members will have their say now. The Carlton FC is at rock bottom. It should be back at the top of the tree competing with the Collingwoods and Essendons rather than at the bottom with the St Kildas and the Bulldogs."

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Saturday, October 19, 2002

Wayne Brittain joins Richmond

Sacked Carlton coach WAYNE BRITTAIN officially became the deputy to DANNY FRAWLEY in the announcement made on Friday by the Richmond FC.

Brittain after his much publicised replacement at Princes Park by former Kangaroo coach DENIS PAGAN, puts behind him a disastrous season when the Blues won only three matches, and collected its first VFL-AFL wooden spoon.

Wayne Brittain told *afl.com.au* that the chance to work with Danny Frawley and new Tigers' football director GREG MILLER plus the chance to be involved with one of Victoria's biggest AFL clubs was the reason he chose to join Richmond as an assistant coach.

Brittain is highly respected and was pursued by five clubs.

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Sunday, October 20, 2002

Carlton's revolutionary share plan

Carlton members may receive end-of-year dividends from a revolutionary unlisted-share package being considered by the Carlton One presidential ticket, DAMIEN BARRETT reports in Melbourne's Sunday Herald Sun.

It is understood Carlton One hopes to raise $5 million annually from the arrangement. The share packages are believed to be valued at less than $1000 per issue.

Carlton One member and financial adviser MARCUS ROSE yesterday described the share offer to members as an extended form of membership.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Carlton board battle
Elliott's support evaporates
De Lutis, Hall and Stones resign
Carlton's embattled board was further reduced to only six members following the resignations on Monday of COLIN DE LUTIS, KEVIN HALL and BARRY STONES.

This follows the overwhelming rejection of the board when a no-confidence motion against the current administration was carried 1776 to 852 votes at the meeting on October 9.

The 46-year-old De Lutis who on October 3 was anointed as John Elliott's successor, received a hostile reception as one of the three speakers against the no-confidence motion and is believed to have been stung by the reaction of members.

The long-serving Kevin Hall – a board member for 25 years – and Barry Stones, a director of nine years, depart to respect the wishes of the members. In a joint statement the pair said: "The members have spoken and we have clearly heard their voice – we hope our resignation will hasten the finalisation of the club's future board structure."

Elliott is confident the remaining board members – himself, Wes Lofts, Peter Kerr, Stephen Kernahan, Greg Williams and Barry Armstrong – would be retained by registered members at the November 12 extraordinary meeting.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Carlton board battle
Ian Collins fires a crippling broadside
"Elliott should resign with dignity"
Presidential challenger IAN COLLINS has fired the latest broadside in the battle for the Carlton Football Club calling for the embattled JOHN ELLIOTT to resign, with dignity.

The leader of the *Carlton One* ticket on Tuesday said Elliott, the Blues' president of 20 years standing, should follow the lead of fellow directors COLIN DE LUTIS, KEVIN HALL and BARRY STONES who have resigned from the board in recent days following the vote of no-confidence by the membership on October 9.

At the forthcoming extraordinary meeting of the club on November 12th, 5600 voting members will be asked to vote yes or no in favour of keeping the six remaining directors, John Elliott, vice-president Peter Kerr, Wes Lofts, Stephen Kernahan, Barry Armstrong and Greg Williams, and any replacements appointed in the interim and then will be asked to vote yes or no in favour of voting the 10 person *Carlton One* ticket to the board.

*Carlton One* are represented by: Ian Collins, Bruce Mathieson, Stephen Silvagni, David McKay, Ken Hunter, Simon Wilson, Lauraine Diggins, John Valmorbida, Graham Smorgon and Marcus Rose.

PAUL GOUGH on *afl.com.au* speculates the most widely anticipated result is that all of the *Carlton One* ticket will be elected along with champion players Kernahan and Williams from the current board, giving the Blues a new 12 person board of directors.

As the Diary recorded last Saturday (19th) under Carlton's constitution, its board of directors could contain as few as five members or as many as 20.

However, whichever combination of directors are elected on November 12, a third will immediately face re-election at the club's AGM on December 10.

The Age reports today that the ever-resourceful John Elliott last night foiled an attempt to further weaken his position, swiftly installing BARRY ARMSTRONG and PETER KERR from the football club board as social club directors to replace BARRY STONES and KEVIN HALL, who resigned on Monday.

In doing so, Elliott averted a possible vote to dump him as president of the Carlton Cricket and Football Social Club, which is the ground manager and, inextricably, financially linked with the football club ... more ...

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Saturday, October 26, 2002

"Carlton has systematically cheated the salary cap"

CAROLINE WILSON reports in Saturday's Age, the AFL's investigation into Carlton's salary cap breaches has taken a dramatic turn as a result of new evidence relating to money paid to former Blue STEPHEN O'REILLY.

The AFL not only suspect that Carlton has systematically cheated the salary cap over a period of years but has gathered significant evidence to prove it during investigations into contracts and post-retirement packages received by a series of Carlton footballers, including O'Reilly.

The League has offered indemnities to at least two former players in O'Reilly and FRASER BROWN in return for proof that the pair received under-the-table payments following their retirement from football at the end of 2000.

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Monday, October 28, 2002

Stab Kicks ...

<> JOHN ELLIOTT, embattled business man and president of the Carlton FC, barring further appeals and legal argument, is due to begin evidence in the Victorian Supreme Court today. Elliott and two other directors will be asked to answer charges brought by the Australian Securities Investments Commission that they allowed milling company Water Wheel to incur millions of dollars of debts and ignored clear indications from many sources that is was insolvent.

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Saturday, November 2, 2002

John Elliott in witness box

The Herald Sun on Friday (1st) reported: After one attempt to torpedo the case in the High Court, four in the Supreme Court and one in the Federal Court, Mr John Elliott finally stepped into the witness box of the Supreme Court on Thursday to give evidence. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has accused Mr Elliott and two other directors of allowing the milling company Water Wheel to trade while insolvent.

The hearing will continue on Monday.

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Saturday, November 2, 2002

Carlton back in court
Victorian Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Warren on Friday ruled inspections of the AFL club's membership books should continue, with the matter then adjourned to November 22.

The inspections follow the revelations of former vice-president Colin De Lutis that he gave his Bradmill textile workers memberships in return for proxy votes.

De Lutis resigned from the board last month after he received a hostile reception from Blues members at the club's October 9 meeting.

Despite court action dragging on for almost a month, the November 12 extraordinary meeting is likely to resolve any questions of the Blues' membership.

Elliott and his board have already had a no confidence motion passed against them by members, and the November 12 meeting could see a new board voted in – Herald Sun, November 1.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2002

bull5.gif - 0.9 KCarlton began its preparation on Monday morning on an oval outside of the main Princes Park arena under new coach DENIS PAGAN. During a light skills session with balls, participants included newcomer BARNABY FRENCH from Port Adelaide and the recuperation group of MATTHEW ALLEN, LANCE WHITNALL, ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES, GLENN MANTON, SCOTT FREEBORN and BRENDAN FEVOLA. Behind the scenes at Carlton, a deal has not yet been struck for the 27-year-old ruckman MATTHEW ALLEN. Although he is training with the Blues, unless either party changes its mind, the Herald Sun reports, Allan will nominate for the pre-season draft. The Blues have the first two picks on November 24.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Final siren for Elliott

A dramatic end to JOHN ELLIOTT's presidency of 20 years at Carlton is the front-page story of both Melbourne morning newspapers.

CAROLINE WILSON, chief football writer for The Age wrote JOHN ELLIOTT, the AFL's most enduring and controversial president, last night quit the Carlton football club just 24 hours before he was due to be voted out by his members.

His demise as Carlton president completes a spectacular fall from grace for a man once counted among Australia's most powerful business tycoons, and touted as a future Liberal prime minister.




THEY SAID IT  ...

One scrap Jack could not win
JOHN SALVADO, The Advertiser, November 12, 2002 —

He fell on his sword.

Fittingly, the 61-year-old made the announcement at a room in the John Elliott Stand at Optus Oval.

"Once the vote of no confidence was declared our time was up," Elliott said. "I was ready to go. We could have had a much smoother transition." Asked if had any regrets, Elliott said: "I just regret we don't win a premiership every year."

After relinquishing the chairmanship of Liberal fund-raising group the 500 Club last month, the Carlton presidency was the last high-profile position held by Elliott.

It seems extraordinary to recall that he was spoken about seriously as a future Liberal prime minister in the heady days of the 1980s.

As chairman of Elders-IXL, he personified many of the successes and excesses that characterised the corporate world in that decade.

The company took over brewing giant CUB and promised to Fosterise the world. Elliott's political and corporate clout began to slip in the 1990s.

He was pursued by the National Crime Authority for alleged bogus foreign exchange transactions but the case against him was dismissed before trial, when it was ruled the NCA had overstepped its authority.

True to character he then – unsuccessfully – pursued the NCA for damages.

Further court action this year relating to his flagship company Australian Rice Holdings and flour-milling company Water Wheel were also unwelcome distractions as he fought to keep control at Carlton. What finally ended Elliott as Carlton president was confronting an opponent he could not badger or belittle.

 

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Monday, November 11, 2002 (pm)

Carlton board resigns
Blues charged with salary cap breaches

The Carlton board led by president JOHN ELLIOTT have accepted the overwhelming wishes of its members and resigned.

The decision was delivered at a 6.30pm press conference this evening following an earlier meeting of the board.

It clears the way for IAN COLLINS to be elected president when the extraordinary meeting is held on Tuesday night at Crown Casino.

The full text of the statement from Mr Elliott appears below.

Earlier on Monday, the AFL announced the Carlton FC have been charged with breaches of the salary cap.

The charge has been laid by AFL investigations manager KEN WOOD and will be heard by the AFL Commission on Tuesday, November 19.

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Statement from John Elliott

Carlton Football Club members have voted for a change. On behalf of the current board we accept that decision.

I congratulate Ian Collins and his ticket on their victory.

I have been privileged to be president for the last 20 years of the greatest sporting club in Australia. I am immensely proud of what the club has achieved – in being consistently competitive, in winning premierships and in developing and nurturing the character of young men who have played in the famous Carlton guernsey.

I along with directors Wes Lofts, Peter Kerr and Barry Armstrong have decided to resign from the Board from the commencement of the general meeting Tuesday night.

I pay tribute to their service. Wes Lofts and Peter Kerr preceded me and have a long term and outstanding contribution to this football club. Barry Armstrong, a 204 game player and 11 years as a director has also given unstinting service.

It is most pleasing that Stephen Kernahan and Greg Williams have been supported by the membership and will be re-elected. It is critical that they continue to run football at Carlton supporting new coach Denis Pagan.

The Carlton Football Club is strong. The combined loss of the Football and Social Club will be less than $180,000 – not the $500,000 loss previously expected. This is a remarkable result given the on field performance of the team in a tough football business environment.

On the field the club is thriving under coach Denis Pagan’s leadership. Amongst all players and football staff there is renewed enthusiasm and commitment. Pagan has already instilled a strong sense of purpose and discipline. I believe the club will be playing finals football in 2003.

Tomorrow night’s special meeting will proceed, given the directive of the Supreme Court. Resolutions have to be put and still require a formal vote of the membership.

At that meeting Ian Collins and his ticket will become the new CFC Board, along with Kernahan and Williams – with my total support, and that of my fellow directors.

The ordinary member has spoken. We accept the decision. We will now close ranks and move forward in a unified manner in the best interests of the club.

Monday, November 11, 2002 (am)

Carlton board battle
Elliott faces heavy defeat

The Carlton FC began the count of proxy votes after 7pm on Sunday night. Both The Age and Herald Sun predict the Ian Collins-led *Carlton One* ticket have the numbers to end the 20-year presidential reign of JOHN ELLIOTT.

More than 1000 are expected to attend the extraordinary meeting of the club to be held tomorrow (Tuesday) night at the Palladium Ballroom at Crown Casino. Nineteen resolutions will be put to the 5660 Carlton members who are eligible to vote.

About 75 per cent of the 2000 members at the October 9 meeting held at Moonee Valley Racecourse supported a vote of no confidence in Elliott and his co-directors, while 1776 proxies voted for it. A total of 852 proxies were against the motion. Ian Collins claims his ticket now has "substantially more" proxies for tomorrow's meeting.

Though results from the counting of proxies will be finished today they will only be made known to the chief executive, the company secretary and the president before the meeting.

Results are also awaited on the AFL investigation into alleged salary cap breaches by Carlton. The Blues stand to lose its first two picks, No. 1 and No. 2 at the National Draft on November 24.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Ian Collins takes charge as Carlton president

The Carlton One ticket led by IAN COLLINS was overwhelmingly endorsed by the membership at the extraordinary meeting held at Crown Casino on Tuesday night attended by about 1100 members.

Collins received 2248 of the proxies and 636 against.

The vote followed the resignation on Monday of JOHN ELLIOTT and the three remaining board members, Wes Lofts, Peter Kerr and Barry Armstrong.

Collins and nine members of the Carlton One group were elected to the board, while current directors and former premiership players STEPHEN KERNAHAN and GREG WILLIAMS retained their positions.

The new Carlton FC board includes its first female director LAURAINE DIGGINS. Other board members are: BRUCE MATHIESON, MARCUS ROSE, GRAHAM SMORGON, DAVID McKAY, JOHN VALMORBIDA, STEPHEN SILVAGNI, KEN HUNTER, STEPHEN KERNAHAN and GREG WILLIAMS.

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Blues tipped to lose first two picks

Carlton's new president IAN COLLINS must face the AFL Commission next Tuesday to answer salary-cap breach charges laid on Monday.

At the centre of the charges are that Carlton in 2000 made under-the-table payments to several players. These are understood to be FRASER BROWN and STEPHEN O'REILLY – and a further five players are under investigation which includes new board member Stephen Silvagni.

The Herald Sun notes today – It is the third time in five years the Blues have been affected by salary-cap breaches.

In 1998, they were fined $43,820 and disqualified from the pre-season draft and in 2000, fined $115,152 and again disqualified from the pre-season draft.

As part of the 2000 offences, they also received a suspended fine of $57,756 and a suspended sentence in regards to losing their 2nd and 3rd round selections in the national draft up until the end of 2003.

The Age reports the AFL Commission has already signalled its intention to punish the Blues by removing its prized opening picks in the coming National Draft – Nos. 1 and 2 – along with taking away two early-round picks at the end of 2003.

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Friday, November 15, 2002

Salary cap breaches
Carlton face additional charges
Silvagni and Bradley come forward
AFL refutes claims by The Age

Carlton's new board led by IAN COLLINS were charged with additional breaches of the salary cap on Thursday afternoon.

AFL football operations manager ANDREW DEMETRIOU released a statement saying two Carlton players had voluntarily come forward in relation to undisclosed payments.

The Herald Sun reports: Information from new Carlton board member Stephen Silvagni and former captain Craig Bradley is understood to have led to fresh charges against the embattled AFL club.


To allow Carlton more time to prepare before its appearance before the AFL Commission, the hearing has been delayed by three days until 6pm on Friday, November 22 – less than 48 hours before the National Draft on Sunday, November 24, which remains scheduled.

CAROLINE WILSON has the story covered in The Agemore ...

AFL.com.au reported on Thursday, League chief executive WAYNE JACKSON refuted claims made by The Age newspaper on Wednesday that the Commission had determined penalties against the Carlton FC for breaching the total players payment provisions.

Jackson said the comments in The Age were simply conjecture and the report was not sourced in any way.

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Monday, November 18, 2002

Stab Kicks ...

News sources of the day report —

bull5.gif - 0.9 K DARYL TIMMS of the Herald Sun notes that Carlton will front the AFL Commission of Friday to answer salary cap charges allegedly relating to retired players STEPHEN O'REILLY and FRASER BROWN. It's understood the Blues made undisclosed payments to some players via its social club or by a third party paying other third parties associated with the respective players. The AFL will decide on Friday – just two days before Sunday's draft – whether they will strip the Blues of draft selections as a consequence.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Carlton owe $100,000 to Silvagni & Bradley

CAROLINE WILSON reported in The Age: Carlton pair STEPHEN SILVAGNI and CRAIG BRADLEY are still owed substantially more than $100,000 by the John Elliott administration and have never received the under-the-table payments promised to them by the previous Blues board.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Carlton gives players 48 hours to "come clean"

Carlton president IAN COLLINS has given any player, manager or employee of the club, 48 hours to come clean on any salary-cap rorts.

The Herald Sun reports: In a seven–paragraph letter, Collins asked the players to respond with "documentary proof" by Thursday, a day ahead of the AFL Commission hearing into Carlton's salary-cap rorting involving four players. If anything surfaces, Collins said it would be dealt with a Friday's 6pm hearing.

The final paragraph carried a blunt warning to players.

"Should you fail to respond with documentary proof of any variation by the required date, then the club will not honour any promissory notes that may be in existence.

MARK ROBINSON in the Herald Sun quoted a industry source who described the letter as confusing.

He said: "What happens if the players confess? Would Collo actually pay them their outstanding money? If he did, it would mean Collo himself would be rorting the salary cap in the future."

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Thursday, November 21, 2002

Carlton salary cap breaches
Collins names four former directors

Carlton president IAN COLLINS will tell the AFL Commission tomorrow night that only four Carlton directors had any knowledge of undisclosed payments to players.

Former president JOHN ELLIOTT and co-directors WES LOFTS, BARRY STONES and KEVIN HALL will be named as the four.

There is speculation that the new Carlton board, under Collins, could seek legal advice about taking action against the former directors.


Previous salary cap breaches

On record are the following salary cap breaches, and the penalties invoked –

Essendon
offended in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996
Penalty determined in 1999.
Fined $276,274.
Lost 1st and 2nd round picks at 1999 draft.
Melbourne
offended 1993–1998
Penalty determined in 1999.
Fined $600,000 ($250,000 suspended for five years).
Lost 1st round pick at 1999 draft. Selection given to Fremantle as compensation.
Lost 1st round pick at 2000 draft (suspended for five years). Lost 2nd & 3rd round picks at 2000 draft.
Carlton
offended 1998–1999
Penalty determined in 2000.
Lost 2nd & 3rd round picks at 2000 draft (suspended).
No access to 2000 pre–season draft.
Fremantle
offended 2001
Penalty determined in 2001.
Fined $54,415.
Lost 3rd round pick at 2002 draft. Lost 1st and 2nd round picks at 2002 draft (suspended).

Source: AFL

November 20

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Saturday, November 23, 2002

Carlton pushed to the brink by $930,000 fine
Blues stripped of key draft choices
"Deliberate, elaborate and sophisticated scheme"
Members and supporters "betrayed"

Following a marathon seven hour hearing lasting into the early hours of Saturday morning, the AFL Commission have fined Carlton a total of $930,000 for salary cap breaches and stripped the club of crucial draft choices.

Carlton faced charges of rorting the salary cap, involving payments to four former players – Craig Bradley, Stephen Silvagni, Stephen O'Reilly and Fraser Brown.

Carlton were fined $872,424 for the current digressions, together with a further fine of $57,576 which was suspended from two years ago when they were last found guilty of breaching the salary cap.

The Blues are reeling with the hefty fine placing the future of the club in jeopardy.

Carlton have lost not only the first two selections in Sunday's National Draft, but also their second and third round picks meaning their first selection tomorrow will not be until pick 45.

Carlton will suffer further in losing their first and second round selections in the 2003 National Draft as well as the first pick in this year's Pre-Season Draft on December 17.

AFL Commission chairman RON EVANS described Carlton's latest salary cap breaches "as a deliberate, elaborate and sophisticated scheme to break the player payment rules. Carlton members and supporters ought to feel betrayed by the actions of their club."




THEY SAID IT  ...

KEVIN SHEEDY, The Age, November 22 —

In a typical example of the current sentiment towards Carlton, Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy told The Age: "Jack (Elliott) said Essendon cheated to win the flag (in 1993) and then we had the moratorium. So 14 other clubs probably cheated to lose it and Carlton kept doing it. Only Ian Collins and the commission really knew what was going on and now the boot's on the other foot."

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PATRICK FITZGERALD, Crikey, November 22 —

Carlton's salary cap rorting almost defies belief in that only certain members of the old board sanctioned and were complicit in such illegality, but key Carlton football club administration officials were completely kept in the dark.  It would seem while Elliott was in charge you needed a hurricane lamp to shed any light on such secret payments, and yet I don't know if I can quite buy that argument?

So Ian Collins has no choice but to admit to the AFL Commission what is now emerging as a Pandora's box of salary cap cheating involving a minimum of four and possibly more players.  But it is also hard to see how the ATO and even the police don't have any choice but to launch their own investigations.  After all secret payments raise wider corporate governance questions irrespective of AFL regulations.  There is also a question mark hanging over the continuing board role of Silvagni, as well as the possibility of legal action being taken against former directors for the actions that are now inflicting so much damage on and off the field.

While Collins might be equipped with a ready supply of Vaseline to assist his club's passage through tonight's horror hearing, and praying the punishment brought down by the commission is likely to be still letting Carlton off lightly relative to its crimes, that's of little consolation. He knows losing priority and other picks in Sunday's draft is an unmitigated disaster that would set the club back years.

 


from the e-mail bag ...

A long-time subscriber has penned his feelings in advance of the Friday night hearing facing the Carlton club. I believe they sum up the thoughts of passionate fans of the Blues –

I am preparing for the worst at Friday night's hearing.

To lose two super youngsters, Goddard and Wells, is heartbreaking. Seeing these kids at both last year's Under 16's and this year's Under 18's Championship Carnivals – it is painful to be aware of how talented these guys are. And to know that we will miss out on them because of dickhead administrators running my football club adds to the devastation.

Apparently Carlton supporters are going to protest to the AFL on Friday night if we lose the Top 2 picks – how about protesting to the club for ruining it.

Whatever punishment we get we deserve. We are essentially the ones at fault. We have to accept the decision, but losing the picks will mean the club won't reach the heights that I know I want, and for that reason, I am furious with those responsible.

Name withheld

November 22

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Monday, November 25, 2002

Blues fined $872,424 and $57,576; total $930,000

DARYL TIMMS in Monday's Herald Sun clarifies the fines imposed on Carlton by the AFL Commission.

The Blues were fined $872,424 for breaches after a seven-hour hearing which finished early on Saturday morning.

They were also stripped of their first four selections from yesterday's national draft, including the prized first two picks.

The fine handed out to the Blues totalled $930,000 but included $57,576 which had been suspended, along with two draft selections, from a salary cap breach in 2000.

The smaller fine must be paid by December 31 this year and the balance by the same time next year.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Pagan, senior players, asked to take 25% cuts
Independent auditors appointed

Senior Carlton players and coach Denis Pagan have been asked to take pay cuts to save the 138-year-old club from facing financial ruin. The Blues, facing a trading loss close to $2 million this year has brought in an independent auditing firm to investigate the magnitude of financial losses.

The action follows the discovery that current contracts entered into for the 2003 season exceed the League salary cap of $5.95 million by as much as $1.2 million.

Under AFL rules, player contracts must be lodged by December 6.

Yesterday, Carlton president IAN COLLINS delivered the 25 per cent pay cut ultimatum to ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES, captain BRETT RATTEN, LANCE WHITNALL, COREY McKERNAN, vice-captain ANDREW McKAY, ADRIAN HICKMOTT, SCOTT CAMPOREALE, SIMON BEAUMONT and GLENN MANTON.




THEY SAID IT  ...

Money or your mates, says Collo
MARK ROBINSON, Herald Sun, November 26 —

The Carlton Football Club has threatened to sack 10 players – and even coach Denis Pagan – as the financial crisis reached boiling point yesterday.

Blues president Ian Collins' ultimatum to the players – accept the pay cuts or we'll sack your mates – sparked emergency talks between players, player managers and the AFL Players Association.

Asked yesterday whether he would rule out "delisting" the coach, Collins said: "I don't rule out anything, because we have to go through a process to make sure that we can function.

"They either take the cuts or we move them out," he said. "This is not a ploy. We simply can't pay them. It's up to them whether the club remains.

"I will do anything to keep this club. The club is more important than the players even if it means migrating them out and not fielding a team next year.

"I need decisions by the end of this week otherwise delistings will take place. If they don't agree, we'll get rid of 10 players."

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Sledgehammer in right hands

MIKE SHEAHAN, Herald Sun, November 27 —

Collins is the right man, the only man, capable of leading a revival at Optus Oval. Probably not for the long haul, certainly for the moment.

Who else but Collins has the audacity, the self-belief, the grit to tackle such a monumental task with the necessary requisites of both a smile and a sledgehammer?

There's a correction taking effect throughout the AFL, one started at the Kangaroos, hastened by the Bulldogs and now in full swing as a result of the disclosures at Carlton.

What is as clear as the nose on your face is that the John Elliott administration has left the place in disarray and deep in debt. Elliott's reputation has been badly damaged.

The motives might have been understandable, but the execution was appalling. Big Jack and his cronies said "to hell with the rules", now there's hell to pay.

 

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Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
No end in sight
Silvagni and Bradley may play again

No immediate end is in sight to the serious financial crisis at the Carlton Football Club. The new Blues board met yesterday but to date no details have emerged.

Among the issues discussed would have been the impact of pay cuts demanded on Monday, starting with coach Denis Pagan, and the postponement of the December 17 annual general meeting to a date to be fixed in February.

The latest surprise in the saga is that newly elected director STEPHEN SILVAGNI is on the verge of standing down in favour of playing in 2003 for minimum match payments.

The 39-year-old CRAIG BRADLEY is also expected to reverse his retirement announced last month.

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Thursday, November 28, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Blues on the brink of withdrawing in 2003
Collins says Pagan is not under threat
Silvagni decides against comeback
Players to meet on pay cut demands

The Carlton saga continues.

A meeting of key Carlton players this morning at the home of Scott Camporeale will determine a united stand from the group asked to take 25 per cent pay cuts.

The question of how the Carlton club can reduce total player payments in the 2003 season to conform with the AFL's $5.9 million salary cap is the critical question.

The tangled web of contracts and a host of deferred player payments created by the discredited John Elliott administration is a maze through which there appears no simple passage.

Even in the unlikely event that leading players will accept wholesale pay cuts, it is simplistic to expect that Carlton can pull themselves within the current rules.

There is a strong body of reasoning that Carlton may not be able to match the criteria to field a team in 2003.

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bull5.gif - 0.9 K Carlton president IAN COLLINS on Wednesday declared the position of coach DENIS PAGAN is secure and he is unlikely to be asked to accept pay cuts.

bull5.gif - 0.9 K Newly appointed Carlton director STEPHEN SILVAGNI, after meeting with Pagan on Wednesday has ruled out a return to the playing ranks.

bull5.gif - 0.9 K The Age reports that at least seven of the nine players asked to take pay cuts have already deferred substantial payments from 2002. Collectively, Koutoufides, Andrew McKay and Adrian Hickmott have deferred $350,000 of payments, with Simon Beaumont understood to have deferred $50,000, Whitnall $100,000 and Camporeale $100,000.

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Friday, November 29, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Blues, AFL and AFLPA talks to continue
Process may take weeks to resolve

Lengthy talks on Thursday between the Carlton FC, the AFLPA and the AFL indicate that senior players who were asked to take pay cuts, are prepared to renegotiate contracts to ensure the Blues can field a team in 2003.

However, the process may take weeks and will be subject to the verification of details of the financial situation of Carlton by the League.

The AFL website reported a joint statement issued by Carlton and the AFLPA said: "Players believe the appropriate way to deal with this is through confidential discussion, with the first step involving the provision of information to the senior group of players which involves detailed player contract information to be confirmed by the AFL and other financial information by the club.

"Once this information has been provided, discussions will then proceed with a view to rectifying Carlton's current predicament in a manner that is acceptable to both parties."

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THEY SAID IT  ...

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MICHAEL DAVIS, The Australian, November 29 —

In a statement released by the AFLPA last night, Carlton's senior players acknowledged that if the club was to compete in 2003, it must bring down total player payments to a level that meet the requirements of the AFL rules.

"The AFL has confirmed the statements made by the Carlton Football Club will require re-negotiation of the current contracts Carlton has with its players in relation to player payments in 2003," the statement said.

"The players are prepared to enter into discussions with the Carlton Football Club on re-negotiation of their contracts with a view to assisting the club in meeting its obligations under the AFL Player Rules and, specifically, the TPP (total player payment) for 2003.

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Saturday, November 30, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Cashless Blues cannot meet 2002 player payments
Pre-season draft delayed until December 20

The AFL on Friday moved the Pre-Season and Rookie Drafts by three days, to Friday December 20.

The re-scheduling of all associated requirements including the lodgement of the Total Player Payment (TPP) estimates for season 2003 will give the Carlton FC much-needed breathing space as the Blues come to grips with the financial morass.

The Herald Sun reports Carlton cannot meet the player payments of between $700,000-$800,000 for season 2002 which fall due on November 30.

Talks between the various parties on Friday made little progress.

The Blues only have until December 13 to convince their nine highest-paid players – captain Brett Ratten, Anthony Koutoufides, Lance Whitnall, Simon Beaumont, Andrew McKay, Glenn Manton, Scott Camporeale, Adrian Hickmott and Corey McKernan – to take a pay cut of up to 25 per cent, otherwise the club will have to delist players.

On Thursday, Carlton's senior player group agreed to negotiate on the conditions the club proves its present and future financial solvency and allow an independent third party – former Melbourne chief executive John Anderson – to examine all player contracts.

Talks will continue across the weekend.

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Monday, December 2, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Carlton refuse to open books to players
Payments for 2002 season still unpaid
Threat remains to 2003

Carlton's new administration have refused to open its accounts to the nine senior players it last week demanded accept a 25 per cent pay cut.

The Age reports the verification request was one of a series put to Carlton president IAN COLLINS by AFLPA chief executive ROB KERR last Thursday as a precondition to more negotiations.

On Friday, the AFL postponed the pre-season draft by three days (to December 20) and pushed back by a week (to December 13) the date by which clubs must lodge their player payments to give Carlton more time to work its way back under the $5.9 million salary cap for 2003 and avoid a potentially massive penalty.

Collins has admitted the club it is short of cash – player payments for season 2002 due last Saturday remain unpaid.

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Monday, December 3, 2002

Stab Kicks ...

bull5.gif - 0.9 K The Age reports the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says it is waiting for the AFL to complete an inquiry into Carlton's salary cap breaches. ASIC may look into the accounting practices behind the hidden payments which drew League fines of $930,000.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Talks stall
Blues to rattle the tins

Talks between players, managers, the AFL Players Association and the Carlton FC are in limbo with no evidence of a solution to the salary cap and pay cuts dispute.

In the meantime, the Blues are calling on supporters to dig into their pockets, with a Fight Back Rally to be held at the Carlton ground on Saturday December 14.

JON ANDERSON reports in the Herald Sun that while the poorhouse Blues have stopped short of declaring their fundraising campaign a tin rally, the cans will be out as the club attempts to pay its massive debts, brought on by –

u AFL fines: $930,000 for salary-cap breaches
u Annual deficit: estimated at between $1 million and $2 million
u Unpaid player payments: estimated at $780,000.

"It's my Club, Now It's Personal" is the club's slogan in its time of need.




THEY SAID IT  ...

Blues face tax office probe
PHILLIP HUDSON, The Age, December 4 —

Carlton Football Club faces a tax probe that may drain more cash from its depleted coffers.

The Blues may also face penalties for breaching accounting laws on top of a $930,000 AFL fine and draft penalties for its salary cap infringements.

The Australian Taxation Office is looking at the tax affairs of Carlton and key players after revelations about secret payments to players. The ATO wants to determine whether the Blues failed to tell it about those payments and other perks, and possibly evaded tax.

The tax office is understood to be concerned about the poor tax compliance of a number of sporting clubs, particularly AFL teams.

In 1998, tax commissioner Michael Carmody said it was important for clubs and players to pay their fair share of tax, after an audit of players reaped more than $1 million in unpaid taxes, fines and wrongful deductions, and a crackdown on the clubs produced $2 million in unpaid taxes and fines.

"While many are meeting their responsibilities, there are others who I guess aren't providing a good role model for their fans," Carmody said at the time.

Carlton also faces questions about whether it breached the Corporations Law after Labor senator Stephen Conroy, a passionate Collingwood supporter, asked ASIC chairman David Knott, a Carlton fan, in a Senate hearing if the accounting practices behind the hidden payments would be investigated.

Knott said ASIC would wait for the result of the AFL's salary cap investigation but had already contacted the club and the AFL.

 

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Thursday, December 5, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Elite players call for across-the-board cuts

Carlton's elite group of nine players will today suggest club president IAN COLLINS broadens the club's pay-cutting program to include the entire playing list.

The group will tell Collins that slashing of salaries should be shared among all senior list players and not just the nine highest-paid.

DARRYL TIMMS in the Herald Sun reports the Blues say that based on current figures the club would be $1.2 million over the salary cap and want captain Brett Ratten, Anthony Koutoufides, Lance Whitnall, Simon Beaumont, Andrew McKay, Glenn Manton, Scott Camporeale, Adrian Hickmott and Corey McKernan – to take a pay cut of up to 25 per cent, otherwise the club will have to delist players.

But the players say the figure can be reduced to about half of the club's estimate which would mean pay cuts would range from 7.5 per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent.

JAKE NIALL in The Age writes today that while the salary cap for 2003 is $5.93 million – about $1.2 million shy of the Carlton commitment – the players believe that the club could pay several hundred thousand more, by using the marketing contracts and veterans' list.

The AFL allows each club about $415,000 in "additional services agreement" – for players to perform promotional duties on behalf of the club. The Age understands that while Carlton has allocated some of its marketing allowance for 2003, it has not used all of the $415,000 permitted.

Anthony Koutoufides' manager David Allison told The Age last night that the club's highest-paid player "did not have one cent" of his massive $1.1 million contract for next year in marketing services. He said Koutoufides would obviously be willing to transfer some of his contract to marketing payments if it reduced the amount of cuts.

Normally, the highest-paid and most marketable players – ie, JAMES HIRD and NATHAN BUCKLEY at Essendon and Collingwood – are paid part of their contract for marketing services.

Carlton are understood to have paid all players on base payments for their 2002 services, but the elite nine and a small group of other senior players are yet to be paid. Some $780,000 had been unpaid at the November 30 deadline.

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Friday, December 6, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Blues reject Koutoufides' $600,000 offer

Carlton president IAN COLLINS has rejected an offer by ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES to take a $600,000 pay cut, subject to him receiving a one-year contract extension and the sacrificed money being paid in 2006.

The Age reports Collins made it clear he believes that deferred payments are the source of Carlton's present player payment problems. The Blues have made a habit of pushing large slabs of contracts into the future.

Collins is scheduled to meet Carlton's elite senior players today, without their managers or the Players Association

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Saturday-Sunday, December 7-8, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Breakthrough on salary cap payments
Reducing scale proposed, not 25%

A long-awaited breakthrough on the pay cuts proposed by the Carlton club appeared during talks on Friday between president IAN COLLINS and the elite group of nine senior players.

Carlton has argued it needs to slash $1.2 million from player payments for season 2003 to again avoid breaching the AFL salary cap. Contracts for next season run at $7.1 million – $1.2m more than the AFL cap of $5.9m.

Under the revamped proposal, senior players would take cuts less than 25 per cent – depending on the term of their contract.

ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES with three years to run, would give up a higher percentage on his $1.1 million dollar salary next year, LANCE WHITNALL, on a one-year contract would give up only 15 per cent from his $600,000 in 2003, while the remaining players would be asked to take smaller cuts. Players on the minimum wage would be exempt.

The Age reports the players, based on their associations' analysis   believe the Blues require only a total saving of $600,000-$700,000, counting marketing services money and the veterans' allowance.

The AFL has weighed in on Carlton's side, saying the amount required to satisfy the rules is about $1 million. The League's view is that Carlton cannot use the entire marketing allowance of $415,000 because it does not have the appropriate deals in place, an argument sure to be challenged by the players' management.

The players are expected to send their answer to the new proposal by Monday.

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Carlton settle with Wayne Brittain

WAYNE BRITTAIN who was unceremoniously sacked by Carlton and replaced on September 12 by coach DENIS PAGAN has reached a settlement with the Blues, The Age reported Saturday (7th).

Brittain launched a Supreme Court action on October 7 claiming loss of salary between December 1, 2002 and November 30, 2003, which documents put at $320,000, plus "out-of-pocket expenses" of $4000 in damages.

The settlement is believed to be $200,000.

Wayne Brittain on October 19 was appointed to the Richmond FC staff as deputy to coach DANNY FRAWLEY.

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bull5.gif - 0.9 K The AFL has forecast 14 of the 16 clubs will make profits in 2003, recovering from a poor 2002 when half the clubs finished in the red. The AFL has ruled out providing Carlton with special assistance next year to help it through its financial dire straits, arguing other clubs would not accept the Blues receiving help for problems largely caused by impropriety.

December 7

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Monday, December 9, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Time running out for players
Decision must be reached today
Blues have to meet $5.93m salary cap for 2003

Carlton's pay cut crisis must reach conclusion today if the club means to effectively participate in season 2003.

LANCE WHITNALL has become the centre of the issue as the Blues await his decision to whether he will accept a pay cut of 15 per cent, or $100,000, and extend his current one-year contract.

As Carlton tries to slice as much as $1.2 million from existing 2003 contracts, Whitnall's decision could save several teammates having to make last-minute nominations for next season's pre-season draft – nominations with the AFL for the December 20 draft close tomorrow.

As many as 12 Carlton players have not been registered for season 2003. Players cannot be registered with the League until the club proves they will go into next season in line with the $5.93 million salary cap.

Meetings today between senior players and IAN COLLINS will hopefully bring matters to a conclusion.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Player situation is a fiasco

Both Melbourne daily newspapers have at length in recent weeks detailed Carlton's salary cap fiasco.

Today, the Herald Sun reports the dispute between the AFL Players Association and the club is now over the contractual status of up to a dozen players, with the PA arguing only one player – ANDREW MERRINGTON – is out of contract.

The Age understands MATTHEW LAPPIN – one of the nine players not asked to take a 25 per cent pay cut may become Carlton's first salary cap casualty – and that Lappin may be released from any obligation allowing him to nominate for the pre-season draft by this afternoon's two o'clock deadline.

With the Blues excluded from the pre-season draft on December 20, Richmond are in the box seat if Lappin becomes available, with St Kilda already committed to taking Melbourne's STEPHEN POWELL.

New figures yesterday showed Carlton was about $960,000 over the 2003 salary cap. President IAN COLLINS and the AFLPA are differing to the interpretation on what is an "uncontracted player".

Upwards of 18 players are unregistered with the AFL – five players who were drafted by Carlton, plus BARNABY FRENCH who was traded from Port Adelaide, and 12 players who were offered new deals.

The Age reports: According to Lappin's manager, RON JOSEPH, Carlton is not recognising the Lappin deal or those of other Carlton players who have yet to formally sign the paperwork.

The Herald Sun reports Players' Association chief executive ROB KERR saying last night, it was ridiculous to argue that a player didn't have a contract because he hadn't been registered with the AFL. "You could have ridiculous situations where clubs reach agreements with players and then terminate the agreements," Kerr said.

All clubs must lodge their playing lists with the AFL by Friday.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Crippling new revelation
Threat of more penalties
Blues have breached 2002 salary cap

On-going investigations by the AFL's KEN WOOD and a voluntary admission by the Carlton club has revealed undisclosed cash payments totalling $75,000 were made to ruckman MATTHEW ALLAN in season 2002.

The payments in three instalments were made by a former Carlton director to Allan's agent DAVID ALLISON.

The AFL Commission must decide whether to hand out more penalties for the Allan offence as the investigation continues.

New Carlton president IAN COLLINS wrote to all players and staff last month, urging them to come forward if they were aware of any payments outside the salary cap. A club official came forward and once details of the payments were revealed, the AFL and the Australian Tax Office were advised.

Collins concedes further illegal payments could come to light as more club identities come clean and the club continues its audit of the books.

On November 23 the Blues were fined $930,000 – made up of $872,424 for breaches of the 2001 salary cap and $57,576 suspended from season 2000 irregularities. The $57,576 is payable by December 31 this year – the $872,424 by December 31, 2003.

Carlton were also fined four draft picks from the November 24 National Draft, the first pick in the December 20 Pre-Season Draft and two picks from the 2003 National Draft.

An AAP report on Yahoo! Sport said: There were potential further ramifications for Carlton beyond any punishment by the AFL, as the Australian Tax Office had taken an interest in the Carlton case and non-disclosure of income.

In earlier breaches Carlton was slapped with stiff sanctions for using an elaborate trust-fund system to make under-the-table payments to past players CRAIG BRADLEY, STEPHEN SILVAGNI and STEPHEN O'REILLY, while an investigation into payments to FRASER BROWN was continuing.

Since receiving the fine (on November 23), the cash-strapped Blues had admitted the sum of agreed 2003 players payments would put the club well over the salary cap again, prompting a call for star players to take radical pay cuts.

The pay cut issue remains unresolved though LANCE WHITNALL has agreed to a 15 per cent cut, subject to a one-year extension of his contract.

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AFL gives Matthew Lappin more time

The AFL has given Carlton player MATTHEW LAPPIN until 5pm this afternoon to decide if he wishes to nominate for the Pre-Season Draft as an un-contracted, listed player.

Lappin's manger RON JOSEPH says the wily forward is ready to leave the Blues, citing disappointment in the process Carlton has used to slash player payments.

In the Pre-Season Draft, the two bottom-finishing clubs St Kilda and Richmond decided who would be first, with the Saints opting to take former Demons STEPHEN POWELL, the only player to nominate before yesterday's deadline.

Richmond has the first pick and football manager GREG MILLER says the Tigers would welcome Lappin.

Lappin reached verbal agreement to a new contract under the old Carlton board, but the new administration appear unwilling to honour the deal as it sought big pay cuts to get the club under the 2003 salary cap.

The AFL will not recognise any new Carlton contracts until the club finalises its Total Player Payments for 2003 – the deadline for the TPP is on Friday.

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Thursday, December 12, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Players agree to pay cuts
Sliding scale brings Blues under salary cap

At the 11th hour, a large group of Carlton players yesterday agreed to pay cuts which will enable the Blues to meet the $5.95 million AFL salary cap criteria for season 2003.

Carlton have until tomorrow to lodge full details with the League of the Total Player Payments (TPP) schedule for next year.

More than 20 players agreed to pay cuts that will wipe about $700,000 from the club's salary payments.

The agreement follows weeks of speculation since November 25 after the new Ian Collins-led administration took over the club, and demanded the nine highest paid players accept a 25 per cent cut.

Instead, the cuts will be on a sliding scale from 15 per cent for the highest paid down to about 2 per cent for players on the lower end. Players on basic payments of $50,000 annually cannot take reductions under the collective bargaining agreement.

The Herald Sun believes Carlton's highest-paid player ANTHONY KOUTOUFIDES will forfeit $200,000 of his $1 million-plus salary in 2003.

As part of the agreement, Carlton will retain its current 37-man list, including MATTHEW LAPPIN, who threatened to cross to Richmond, and the uncontracted ANDREW MERRINGTON, who faced the sack.

Carlton president IAN COLLINS was quoted: "Naturally we are delighted the players have put the Carlton FC first and agreed to make the necessary alterations to their playing contracts to enable this club to go into the 2003 season with the very best possible list."

The AFL website reported: The AFL Players' Association said the agreement reached between Carlton and the playing group was an acceptable resolution for the players.

Meanwhile, ruckman MATTHEW ALLAN has expressed his disappointment that his name has been linked with Carlton's disclosure of the payment of a "significant cash amount" to a player on its list for the 2002 season.

"I've done nothing untoward. It's declared in my taxable income, so I haven't done anything wrong there." Allen told Channel 10, "The only thing I suppose, in trying to help the club, it makes me look bad and I've basically done nothing wrong."

On Tuesday it was revealed that Carlton by a voluntary admission to the AFL showed the club had breached the salary cap in the 2002 season when undisclosed cash payments totalling $75,000 were made to MATTHEW ALLEN.

In a pertinent reminder to the manner the discredited John Elliott administration handled financial matters, GRANTLEY BERNARD in his daily *PULSE* page in the Herald Sun on Tuesday noted

... this quote from former Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT from a Herald Sun feature on March 25, 2000.

Asked how much Carlton would pay to get Collingwood captain NATHAN BUCKLEY into a Blues jumper, Elliott replied: "At Carlton we don't worry about the money. We'd ask what he needed."

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Friday, December 13, 2002

Carlton CEO revealed Allen payments

The Age reports Carlton chief executive DON HANLY revealed the under-the-table payment of $200,000 to MATTHEW ALLAN through his manager DAVID ALLISON.

In a memo to president IAN COLLINS, Hanly revealed the May 2002 payment.


Blues to spread payments to Wayne Brittain

The Age reports that Carlton FC over the next 12 months will periodically pay the estimated $200,000 due to sacked coach Wayne Brittain.

The agreement between the parties was reached last week, ending a Supreme Court action by Brittain against the Blues.

December 14

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Saturday, December 14, 2002

Matthew Allan still owed $27,500

SCOTT GULLAN in Saturday's Herald Sun reveals DAVID ALLISON  manager of Carlton ruckman MATTHEW ALLAN received a December 2 letter from the Blues acknowledging a debt of $27,500 was still outstanding.

Allan, has been the centre of an AFL investigation of under-the-table payments.

Allison was paid $20,000, $20,000 and $35,000 in May, August and September by a former Carlton director.

Gullan also reports the AFL will announce on Tuesday which clubs are eligible to take part in Friday's pre-season draft after receiving each team's total player payments estimates yesterday.

League investigators will spend the weekend combing the figures to ensure each club is under the salary cap for season 2003.

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Carlton turns to its members
2002 trading loss tipped as $4 million

CAROLINE WILSON in The Age on Saturday reveals the Carlton FC will turn to its members for individual contributions of $1000 in a bid to rebuild the debt-ridden club, which is expected to announce a 2002 trading loss of close to $4 million.

The Blues are also aiming to raise $2 million from its wealthier supporters that will lead to 40 corporate or former club sponsors being approached for one-off contributions of $50,000 each.

Carlton will launch a supporters' rally at Princes Park at 11am this morning.

December 14




THEY SAID IT  ...

Mystery man paid cash to Allison
DAMIAN BARRETT, Sunday Herald Sun, December 15 —

Payments, totalling $75,000, were delivered to the Parkville offices of Allan's manager, Dave Allison, during the year by an elderly, well dressed man, acting on behalf of a Carlton Football Club director..

Allison said he was contacted by a director before each visit by the anonymous man. "He was an elderly gentleman, certainly in his 60s, very well-dressed. The person came to my office three times. Each time we sat at a table in my office and I signed off on it," Allison said.

The Sunday Herald Sun has seen the documents outlining the forwarding of the cash. The first payment ($20,000) was made on May 27, the second ($20,000) on August 26 and the final instalment $35,000 on September 17.

Each document is signed by Allison and confirms his acceptance of the money on behalf of (Matthew) Allan.

The AFL is investigating the payments made to Allison. If it proves the money was moved outside the salary cap, Allan and Allison face deregistration and fines. The club faces further draft penalties and fines.

 

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Monday, December 16, 2002

Carlton faithful rally to rebuild

About 4,000 attended Carlton's home ground on Saturday for a "fight-back" rally aimed to restore pride in the club.

Despite a wooden spoon, huge penalties for salary cap rorts and pay cut upheavals, those present were optimistic.

New Carlton coach DENIS PAGAN, who was given a rousing reception by the fans, and told the crowd the Blues were capable of reaching finals in 2003.

President IAN COLLINS did not hide the seriousness facing his new administration and implored the fans – with whatever skills they have – to volunteer their services to the club.

Such was the fans' admiration for their new leader, Collins was signing autographs for supporters before he addressed the crowd at 12.30pm.

The AFL website reported Collins praised the players for their "unselfish" action in agreeing to take pay cuts to prevent the club breaching the salary cap again and forcing some of their teammates to leave, Collins predicted the Blues will be competitive next season with a full list at their disposal.

Pagan concluded his address to the faithful: "We ask you to get behind us. We wish you a Merry Christmas and hope to see you all down here in the New Year and especially at Telstra Dome for our first game against Collingwood in the pre-season competition."

A Carlton spokesman said the club had sold more than 1000 memberships on the day and raised more than $250,000, a fifth of which had been from the sale of merchandise.

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Saturday, December 21, 2002

Carlton's financial crisis
Record-breaking loss of $7,558,000
$13 million debt strangles the Blues
Plea to members to get behind the club

Carlton president IAN COLLINS late Friday afternoon revealed the Blues will post a record-breaking loss of $7.558 million for season 2002, which includes the recent salary cap fines of $930,000 and the written down value of $5 million on grandstands at Princes Park.

Combined losses resulted from the football club deficit of $3.896 million, while the social club lost $3.662 million.

The Blues say the main reason for the huge debt of an astonishing $13 million is more than $8 million owed to the bank from the construction of the Elliott and Legend stands and the $930,000 fine for breaching salary cap rules. Present liabilities are another $5 million.

ABC Online reported Mr Collins saying the book value of the stands and other facilities at the ground were $22m and are now being written down.

"It is the intention to write off those stands over 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 so that we will have a written down value at the end of the contractual period of approximately $2m," he said.

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Mindless vandals hit Carlton

In another day of woe for the troubled Blues, mindless vandals broke into Princes Park on Thursday night and defaced the John Elliott Stand with graffiti.

Repairs and restoration of the facility was carried out by staff on Friday at an unnecessary cost to the cash-strapped club.

Communications manager IAN COUTTS urged fans to get behind the club. "It's really disappointing, it has nothing to do with the name, but we don't appreciate it and there's absolutely no need for that sort of thing," he said. President Collins said, "I don't even like graffiti on bloody walls, let alone people coming in and climbing up and vandalising something."

It is hoped the vandals can be found and made to pay for their criminal action.

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Friday, February 7, 2003

Carlton, Matthew Allan, to face AFL charges

The AFL on Thursday charged the Carlton FC and player MATTHEW ALLAN over alleged illegal payments made last year totalling $75,000.

AFL investigations manager KEN WOOD charged Allan and Carlton with "breaching provisions of the Total Player Payments".  Wood completed his probe into the affair this week.

The charges of breaching salary cap rules will be heard by the AFL Commission on February 17.

Player manager DAVID ALLISON who represents Allan has not been charged by the League. However, Allison's position in the matter is expected to be examined by the AFL Players' Association.

Matthew Allan faces a fine and deregistration.

The League in 1992 established a precedent when Carlton player GREG WILLIAMS was suspended for the first six matches of that year when he pleaded guilty of breaching player rules as a Sydney FC player in 1990 by failing to disclose all football payments. Williams was fined $25,000, while Sydney were fined $50,000, half of which was suspended for two years.

On November 23 Carlton were fined a total of $930,000 for salary cap breaches.

Back to the Diary


Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Carlton handed $30,000 suspended fine
Allan investigation continues
Fraser Brown faces a ban

Carlton's salary cap saga turned another page yesterday when the AFL Commission found the Blues had made "full and open disclosures" about $75,000 in under-the-table payments made last year to ruckman MATTHEW ALLAN.

The club was given a fully-suspended $30,000 fine – suspended until December 31, 2006 – and had charges dropped relating to their involvement in the alleged undisclosed payments made for 2001 to former player FRASER BROWN.

The AFL Commission agreed to adjourn its hearing into Allan's culpability, handing a continuing investigation to football operations manager ANDREW DEMETRIOU to complete. Demetriou will also take charge of a resolution on the Fraser Brown matter.

Allan faces deregistration under (AFL rule) 1.6 regarding "conduct unbecoming."

Fraser Brown has refused to cooperate with the AFL in its investigations. The League is considering banning Brown from attending matches for failing to comply with enquires.

Carlton was fined $930,000 on November 23 and stripped of its first-and-second-round picks in the 2003 and 2004 national drafts because of salary cap breaches.

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Heroes Stand to replace Elliott name

Carlton will erase the memory of the disgraced former president John Elliott and rename a 14-year-old facility, the Heroes Stand.

RUSSELL GOULD notes in today's Herald Sun, the once-boisterous 61-year-old is now rarely seen or heard in public.

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Blues name date for Annual General Meeeting

Carlton FC will hold their long-awaited Annual General Meeting on March 18, just 10 days out from the start of the premiership season.

Under the club's constitution two directors must offer themselves for re-election and DAVID McKAY and JOHN VALMORBIDA, who were elected last October came up in the ballot. Another former player CHRIS PAVLOU is expected to offer himself for election, together with LARRY ABRAMSON, a member of the Unofficial Selection Committee, the group that spearheaded the petition which ousted the previous board.

February 20, 2003

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Friday, February 21, 2003

Greg Williams quits as Carlton director
"I'm not leaving with any bad blood"

Carlton veteran GREG WILLIAMS is stepping down from the Blues' board of directors. He will not seek re-election at the AGM on March 18.

Williams and STEPHEN KERNAHAN, re-elected at the extraordinary meeting on November 12, as Carlton's two longest-serving directors were automatically up for re-election. Under the club's constitution, another two directors must be offered for re-election.

From the 11 directors, DAVID McKAY and JOHN VALMORBIDA had their names drawn in a ballot to decide who would face re-election.

Williams departs with the view he is unhappy the club had blamed all its woes on John Elliott.

DARYL TIMMS quoted Williams in the Herald Sun: "I reckon it's a bit rough when you look at all the service he has given. It's like Kevin Hall and some of the others. Kevin was there for 30 years but nobody really cares about them any more and I don't reckon it's right. They raised a lot of money and put in a lot of time for the club. It's a long story. But as I said, I'm not leaving with any bad blood."

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Saturday, February 22, 2003

Matthew Allan: fined $10,000
Suspended until March 28

Carlton's MATTHEW ALLAN has been fined $10,000 and suspended until the end of the pre-season by the AFL.

AFL general manager of football operations ANDREW DEMETRIOU confirmed the findings of the League on Friday morning (21st). The Carlton ruckman will be ineligible to play in any AFL match including Wizard Cup games and inter-club practice matches until March 28

Allan was found guilty of breaching salary cap rules. He received three cash instalments from Carlton last year totalling $75,000 outside of the Total Player Payments provisions.

The Carlton FC in a statement issued after the penalties were announced said it is looking forward to the commencement of the season and is now in a position to concentrate on the future. The Blues are confident there are no other undisclosed breaches.

Investigations into similar allegations on former player FRASER BROWN are continuing.

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Clean out not over at Carlton

CAROLINE WILSON forecasts in The Age today that the clean-up at Carlton may not be over. Every administrator is under a review, with even its most senior executives DON HANLEY and COL KINNEAR likely to be replaced. Wilson suggests that ROD AUSTIN has already been sounded out to replace Kinnear before the start of the season.

Carlton will go before its members at its AGM on March 18.

February 26, 2003

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Blues will not comment on "sackings"

The Herald Sun reports (28th) that the Carlton president IAN COLLINS on Thursday refused to comment on speculation that the club's chief executive DON HANLY and football manager COL KINNEAR are in the firing line.

Collins said: "I don't have a comment on hearsay, innuendo and speculation."

February 28, 2003

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Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Bungle delays Carlton's AGM

Carlton have been forced to move its Annual General Meetings to Monday March 31, after Round 1 of the season has finished.

Late delivery from the printers failed to give 8000-odd eligible members the required 21 days' notice for AGM's of the football club and Carlton Cricket and Football Social Club. The meetings had been scheduled for March 18.

Carlton president IAN COLLINS said in a statement: "We must apologise for having to re-schedule the AGM's".

"It was due to circumstances beyond our control in that the contract printer and the mail-house distributor failed to meet the deadline which would enable the proper notice of 21 days as is required by the Constitutions and Corporate Law."

Collins added new notices will be sent to the club's registered members and the cost of this "will be borne by the parties that failed to fulfil their obligations".

Beyond the usual business of AGM's, 11 candidates are due to face the membership, contesting four positions on the Board.

Mystery still surrounds the tenure of several key staff, including chief executive DON HANLEY, football manager COL KINNEAR and finance manager JASON REDDICK. A recent report has linked SHANE MAGUIRE with the job as Carlton's chief executive. Maguire regularly sits as Tribunal chairman in the absence of Brian Collis, QC.

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Friday, March 7, 2003

Elliott turned a blind eye

Disgraced former Carlton president JOHN ELLIOTT made it his business not to know the systematic salary cap rorting that went on during the final years of his reign.

An interview taped last week was televised on Channel 9's Footy Show on Thursday night. It was Elliott's first public statement since standing aside from his presidency on November 11 when it became clear IAN COLLINS would win an election by members the following night.

Elliott said he accepted the decision of the Carlton members to dump him in favour of Collins but described some of the actions of the new board since taking over as "vindictive."

On The Footy Show, Elliott took a swipe at club legends CRAIG BRADLEY and STEPHEN SILVAGNI for revealing salary cap breaches. He described the two as "the most difficult people we had to deal with at the club over contracts."

The AFL fined Carlton $930,000 on November 23 and stripped them of prized draft picks after being found guilty of making illegal payments to several players.

Back to the Diary


THEY SAID IT ...

Big Jack just not credible
MIKE SHEAHAN, Herald Sun, March 8, 2003

THREE old footy chums recently agreed to get together for a chat. A serious chat. For public consumption.

But what was a great idea for two of them turned out to be a shocker for the third.

John Elliott never should have agreed to the invitation to face Eddie McGuire and Sam Newman on The Footy Show on Thursday night.

He had an impossible task, and he handled it poorly.

As much as McGuire and Newman like Big Jack, as much as they were delighted he had agreed to break his silence on their program, they are professionals and they were well prepared and asked the hard questions.

Elliott simply couldn't give credible answers.

Is he seriously having us believe he didn't know what was going on at his footy club in recent years?

Next he will tell us the AFL forced him to build the Legends Stand.

Big Jack ran the club. Nothing important was done without his knowledge. In the unlikely event it wasn't his idea, he ran with it in public, anyway.

Those who should know say he didn't just know about the contracts in question, he actually negotiated them personally with the players.

Everyone knew basically what had happened at Carlton in recent times.

Some of us even were a touch sympathetic, given Elliott's long service and his success for the first 15 years, given the humiliation of having his name removed from a grandstand, given his motives were based on what was best for Carlton.

He had been seen to slip into retirement in style, preferring to keep his counsel.

As he said on The Footy Show, people would have thought better of him and his record in a few years' time. We would have, too.

"I knew that some of these players were probably being looked after. I made it my business not to find out."

John, please.

Elliott offered an apology of sorts, but undid all the good when he said he didn't really care what people thought.

Admittedly, he was goaded by Newman, but people didn't want to hear it from him.

Sam genuinely doesn't care; Elliott should because Carlton people and a significant number of football followers admired him.

They loved his willingness to tackle City Hall, his loyalty to his footy club, his defiance, his common touch.

Big Jack has given many memorable interviews down the years; sadly, he gave one interview too many.


from the e-mail bag ...

Responses to John Elliott's appearance on Channel 9's Footy Show on Thursday night drew the following –
ANTHONY MITHEN
I think Jack Nicholson's line from "A Few Good Men" might have been more appropriate – "You can't handle the truth ..."
PETER COATMAN
I suppose Elliott felt that the other great traditional excuse "I was only following orders ..." would've been even less plausible!

March 8

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Friday, March 28, 2003

Bradley, Silvagni unlikely to receive payments

JAKE NIALL reported in The Age today that retired Carlton champions Craig Bradley and Stephen Silvagni are unlikely to recover money pledged to them as under-the-counter payments by the previous administration.

Carlton president Ian Collins confirmed yesterday that the money promised to the pair by John Elliott's regime had not been paid and that neither Silvagni nor Bradley had attempted to recover it.

"They've made no claim," Collins said of the 300-game veterans, who came clean about their involvement in salary cap rorting late last year. "At this stage we're not in a position to pay them."

Silvagni and Bradley have been criticised for their part in Carlton's salary-cap penalties by Elliott, who recently told The Footy Show that the former champions were among the "most difficult" contracts to negotiate at the club and expressed disappointment at the manner in which they came forward and informed the AFL.

Elliott's comments angered some Carlton insiders who have pointed out that Silvagni, in particular, was not contracted for anything like the staggering amounts of several teammates despite his outstanding service over a long period and status as the full-back of the century.

Urged by Collins to come clean, Silvagni and Bradley explained to the AFL how they had been promised under-the-counter payments during their playing careers. While the AFL used the information as part of its case against the Blues, along with the evidence of Stephen O'Reilly, neither of the ex-champions had received any of the promised money.

Collins, asked if they would eventually receive what had been pledged, said: "I don't know. We've got other commitments."

Collins said the club wished to put the salary-cap disaster in the past. "We want to move forward."

The new Carlton administration's priority is to eradicate the $8 million or so it owes the banks and Collins yesterday indicated that the debt would be wiped "as soon as possible".

Collins said eliminating the debt would enable the club to function better. "It's not stopping us moving forward, but it does hamper our operations."

Collins did not specify the club's immediate plans for reducing debt, besides cutting costs and raising membership and sponsorship revenue and through its "Heroes Stand" fundraiser - which has already netted an estimated $500,000. "We've just got to get better in every area."

Meanwhile, Brisbane coach Leigh Matthews said grand final rival Mick Malthouse could not assess the Lions' chances of a third AFL flag, AAP reported.

Malthouse said the Lions would need to improve by "five or six per cent each year to stay above wherever the second side is". But Matthews said Malthouse was not qualified to speak about Brisbane. "It's the law of probability that we are testing rather than just our own club's will or intent," he said.

Back to the Diary


Friday, March 28, 2003

Madden under fire over payments to Williams

VICTORIAN Sports Minister Justin Madden has serious questions to answer about alleged improper payments to a Carlton footballer through a company he was a director of, Victorian Opposition Leader Robert Doyle said today.

The Carlton Football Club reportedly made $200,000 in secret payments to star player Greg Williams, funnelling the money through a construction company to beat the AFL salary cap.

The payments, made between 1993 and 1995, were authorised by Carlton chiefs Ian Collins and James Sutherland as ground maintenance, although no work was ever done, the Herald Sun reported.

The company used to conceal the payments was Amigo Constructions Pty Ltd, of which Mr Madden was a director until July 1994.

Mr Madden, a former Carlton ruckman, was unavailable to comment about the issue today.

But his spokeswoman said the minister had been unaware of the payments, and he had not personally received any payments from Carlton in relation to the company.

However, Mr Doyle said Mr Madden needed to reassure Victorians he was not involved in any impropriety.

"Because Justin Madden is the minister responsible for the Commonwealth Games and a budget well over $1.2 billion ... he has to come out now and just assure us that there was no impropriety in these payments over a footballer," Mr Doyle told reporters.

The Herald Sun said the secret payments were uncovered in an investigation by the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Williams is in dispute with the ATO over the money, claiming the payments were a fringe benefit and Carlton should have paid tax on them, not him, the newspaper said.

Carlton has argued the payments were part of Williams' salary as a player.

Documents relating to the scheme say the arrangement was dreamed up by Collins and Williams' manager Peter Jess, who was also a director of Amigo Constructions.

In 1993, Carlton breached the salary cap by $42,226 and was fined $50,000 the following year.

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Back to the Diary


Saturday, March 29, 2003

Collins hid Oliver payments

IAN COLLINS arranged under-the-table payments totalling $70,000 to a second Carlton player to beat the AFL salary cap, the Herald Sun reports today.

RUSSELL ROBINSON notes the sham deal by the club's then executive director involved payments into a private company, which were then channelled into a trust fund.

Some payments to utility STEPHEN OLIVER were disguised in Carlton Football Club's accounts as "repairs and maintenance" and not included under player payments.

The amounts were separate to his official contract and contrived shortly before Mr Collins moved to the AFL in 1993.

Yesterday, the Herald Sun revealed Mr Collins' involvement in secret payments totalling $200,000 to star Blues centreman GREG WILLIAMS through a private company.

Amigo Constructions Pty Ltd invoiced Carlton in 1993, 1994 and 1995 for maintenance work at the ground that was never carried out. Amigo's directors were Williams, now Sports Minister Justin Madden, Essendon star Simon Madden, and their manager Peter Jess.

Carlton officials said on Thursday the sham was revealed to the AFL during its amnesty on salary cap breaches, introduced by Mr Collins in 1994.

Asked by the Herald Sun yesterday if this was so, the AFL would only say: "It was dealt with at the time."

Spokesman PATRICK KEANE said: "The matter is closed as far as we're concerned."

In the February 2001 Administrative Appeals Tribunal tax hearing into Oliver, Mr Collins and Mr Jess were named as having arranged the rort.

Stephen Oliver, who played only 14 games with the Blues during 1993-94, was penalised by the AAT for understating his tax.

The tribunal heard that money paid by Carlton over and above what they had officially declared to the AFL was secretly deposited into a private company, Secureinvest Pty Ltd, which was run by Mr Jess.

Back to the Diary


Monday, June 30, 2003

John Elliott banned for four years, fined $15,000
and ordered to pay $1.4 million compensation

Justice Phillip Mandie of the Supreme Court on June 30 imposed penalties following the judgement last month that Mr John Elliott, Mr Bernard Plymin and Mr William Harrison had breached corporations law and allowed Water Wheel to trade while insolvent.

Justice Mandie ruled the three were not fit and proper persons to manage a corporation. He ordered Mr Elliott and fellow director Mr Plymin to pay creditors joint compensation of $1.42 million as well as meet the legal costs of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Mr Elliott was also fined $15,000 and banned from being a director for four years, Mr Plymin was fined $25,000 and banned for 10 years and Mr Harrison was banned for seven years. Mr Harrison was also ordered to pay $300,000 to the Water Wheel group.

The judge said Mr Elliott claimed he earned $88,000 in the financial year to June 30 and had assets valued at less than $1 million.

In an affidavit, Mr Elliott said he had no income or assets from which he could meet a substantial penalty or compensation order.

In a statement later in the day, Mr Elliott indicated he would appeal the decision of the court.

Water Wheel, a rice and flour miller of which Mr Elliott was a multi-million investor, was placed into voluntary administration in February 2000 after announcing a loss of $6.7 million.

Justice Mandie said a total of $3.35 million in debts were incurred by Water Wheel during the period of insolvent trading. Debts ranged from a few hundred dollars to $1.2 million owed to transport company Derrick and Son.

Herald Sun

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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Elliott seeks to overturn ban, penalty

High profile businessman John Elliott yesterday lodged an appeal against a judge's ruling which banned him from acting as a company director for four years.

Mr Elliott is appealing against the decision, which included a $15,000 fine and an order to pay a share of almost $1.43 million in compensation for allowing rice miller Water Wheel Holdings to operate while insolvent.

A notice of appeal lodged yesterday on behalf of Mr Elliott with the civil division of the Victorian Court of Appeal says: "The learned judge provided no sufficient reasons for his decision that Elliott was not a fit and proper person to manage a corporation and that Elliott should be prohibited from managing a corporation."

The West Australian

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Saturday, July 26, 2003

Elliott wins last-minute reprieve

Businessman John Elliott has persuaded a court he should be allowed to continue working as a company director — for at least the next few months.

Mr Elliott was due to start of four-year ban on managing a company yesterday after the Supreme Court found he and two fellow directors allowed milling firm Water Wheel to trade while insolvent.

But the Court of Appeal yesterday accepted, with some hesitation, that there were exceptional circumstances justifying a stay of the ban until his appeal. Justices Stephen Charles and Peter Buchanan also granted an early hearing of the appeal in October, ruling that there were important questions of public interest to be decided.

But the court refused to stay an order that Mr Elliott and a fellow director jointly pay $1.4 million compensation to Water Wheel's administrator, who has undertaken not to disburse funds to creditors until the outcome of the appeal.

Herald Sun

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

Daryl Timms
Herald Sun

The launch of Big Jack: My Sporting Life got off to a flying start yesterday (20th), courtesy of MC Sam Kekovich.

He kicked off his introduction by saying Elliott was a smoker, a gambler, a drinker, a sexist, a man who farts and burps and who was opinionated and politically incorrect.

"And they're his good qualities," Kekovich said to roars of laughter .

While the official launch of the book was left to board member Stephen Kernahan, a friend of Elliott for 20 years, Sports Minister Justin Madden, was also a speaker.

Recently retired Blues captain Brett Ratten was joined by teammates Ang Christou and Glenn Manton.

Among the who's who of guests were former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, ex-Richmond president Ian Wilson and Lou Richards.

The three club presidents at yesterday's launch – Essendon's Graeme McMahon, Richmond's Clinton Casey and Collingwood's Eddie McGuire – all had one other thing in common.

They had all invited Elliott to their pre-match lunches this year when their clubs played Carlton.

Already Elliott is talking about another book or two. He said he was good for three books, which most thought would be football, business and politics – in that order.

Elliott joked to a friend that his third book might be on sex.

It was perhaps Kernahan, who has been criticised by some for launching the book, who made the most important comment yesterday.

With the book now out of the way, he said he hope everyone could now get on with life.

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The book sold out quickly and went into a second, and a third printing.

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Back to the Diary


Saturday, August 23, 2003

Blues second-best in blame game

The Australian
August 23, 2003

Hawthorn 20.18 (138)
Carlton 10.4 (64)

AS Carlton tried to salvage something out of a miserable season with a spirited showing against Hawthorn at the MCG last night, the off-field spat continued over who was to blame for the Blues' predicament.

Retiring AFL chief executive officer, Wayne Jackson, a special guest of Hawthorn at the president's pre-match dinner, used the forum to launch a stinging attack on the previous Carlton regime led by John Elliott.

Jackson defended the penalties handed out by the AFL commission when Carlton were found guilty of breaching player payment rules at the end of last season, claiming if it wasn't for new president Ian Collins and former players Craig Bradley and Steven Silvagni, the penalties would have been heavier.

Bradley, Silvagni and Collins co-operated fully with the league investigators, something which has left a bad taste in the mouth of Elliott and others.

The Blues were fined $930,000 and stripped of draft picks for two seasons when the AFL found them guilty of systematically rorting the salary cap rules.

"If someone wants to cheat year after year they deserve what they get," Jackson said. "This was a club that cheated and rorted over a period of years and they deserved everything they got and arguably plus some more."

When told of Jackson's comments, Elliott, who was at last night's game, said: "That's a joke from a man retiring."

Elliott has re-opened old wounds during the week with the launch of his tell-all book Big Jack – My Sporting Life and his comments on Channel Nine's The Footy Show that Silvagni and Bradley had received under-the-table payments from Carlton.

"Carlton Football Club paid them the money. It's been paid by the Carlton Football Club when the Carlton Football Club had no obligation to pay it," Elliott said.

Collins said last night no money had been paid and the club was "working through the issue to resolve the commitments made by the previous board to resolve the situation".

Silvagni, who retired at the end of the 2001 season, denied he had received payments, adding: "The former president obviously has trouble remembering that my contract negotiations took place with him, in his office."

Bradley, who retired at the end of last season, said he had not been paid "the monies owed to me by the club at this stage".

Stephen Kernahan, a member of both the Elliott and Collins boards, confirmed the two former players had not been paid. Kernahan, who launched Elliott's book for him during the week, said the whole issue needed to be put behind the club. "We need to get this club going forward," he said.

While the off-field scrap raged between the officials, Carlton players did their best to salvage something. But they were always going to be behind the eight ball after losing Scott Camporeale, Darren Hulme and Simon Wiggins before the game. The three fell victim to a flu virus which swept through the club during the week.

Still, the Blues did better than most expected, even if they were kept in the contest by Hawthorn's inaccuracy.

Some consolation for Carlton was that last night's defeat means they are officially eligible for a priority draft pick as a concession for winning five or fewer games in a season.

Hawks Joel Smith and Shane Crawford set up the win with their pace, ball movement through the middle of the ground, and clever disposal. Youngster Michael Osborne was very good for Hawthorn early in the game.

Hawthorn kicked 12 goals to three after half-time, including the last eight of the game. As best afield, Crawford won the inaugural David Parkin Medal struck in honour of the man who captained and coached both clubs to premierships.

For Carlton, Anthony Koutoufides was superb, Ian Prendergast was a good contributor wherever coach Denis Pagan asked him to play – and that was nearly everywhere – and Jonathon McCormick did his best all night.

Back to the Diary


Thursday, August 28, 2003

Carlton, down in the dumps

Foxtel's BEN ROBERTS yesterday asked "Carlton since round 15 has lost by an average margin of 11 goals! – is this some type of record?" ...

My reply was – By far and away -- 2003 is the *worst* ever for the Blues ...

I conducted a *Footy Works* search of Carlton for losses of 60+ points -- overall in their 2,154 games since 1897 they have lost by 60+ points on 60 occasions – figures below are those where Carlton have lost *three games or more* in a season by 60+ points* – in brackets are the margins –

1898 – R10 (68), R15 (67), R16 (83)
1901 – R2 (87), R7 (80), R16 (69)
2003 – R1 (74), R9 (77), R15 (116), R17 (73), R20 (91), R21 (74)

MARTIN WINDSOR-BLACK also took up Ben's question and thanks to Eric Sorensen's *Footy Works* he discovered that Carlton are on target for another 'club' record, if the streak continues into next season.

The Blues have not been in the top 8 since Round 14, 2002 – i.e. 43 "Consecutive Rounds in the Bottom Section of the Ladder" (i.e. not in a finals position) – (it will be 44 at the end of the season)

Their worst record was between 1989 and 1991 when they were out of the top 5 for 45 Consecutive Rounds.

Most Consecutive Rounds in the Bottom Section of the Ladder – Carlton
45 1989-R1 to 1991-R1 – out of Top 5
44* 2002-R1 to 2003-R22* – out of Top 8
34 1953-R3 to 1954-R18 – out of Top 4
33 1924-R4 to 1926-R1 – out of Top 4
28 1963-R9 to 1964-R18 – out of Top 4
23 1998-R2 to 1999-R2 – out of Top 8
20 1923-R1 to 1924-R2 – out of Top 4
20 1944-R18 to 1945-R19 – out of Top 4
20 1961-R9 to 1962-R10 – out of Top 4

This is well short of the league record ...

There have been 10 streaks of over 100 Consecutive Rounds in the Bottom Section of the Ladder –

265 NM – 1927-R6 to 1941-R18 – out of Top 4
255 Haw – 1925-R1 to 1939-R4 – out of Top 4
204 Fit – 1961-R10 to 1972-R2 – out of Top 4
196 Haw – 1943-R13 to 1954-R5 – out of Top 4
172 StK – 1981-R5 to 1988-R22 – out of Top 5
164 StK – 1941-R2 to 1950-R1 – out of Top 4
140 Rch – 1958-R6 to 1966-R1 – out of Top 4
136 Syd – 1989-R7 to 1995-R4 – out of Top 5/6/8
133 Fsc – 1977-R4 to 1983-R9 – out of Top 5
116 Gee – 1970-R17 to 1975-R22 – out of Top 4/5

Back to the Diary


Monday, September 1, 2003

Optus Oval no more

Carlton has been dealt another huge financial blow, with Optus Communications deciding not to renew its ground-naming rights contract, which is believed to be worth $1 million a year.

Crazy John's has emerged as a contender for the naming rights of Princes Park. The club is hoping to name a new sponsor before the start of the 2004 season – The Age.

See later story – Saturday, September 27, 2003

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Thursday, September 18, 2003

Documents reveal hidden payments

Russell Robinson in the Herald Sun has revealed that the Carlton FC told the AFL that between 1992 and 1995, Greg Williams was paid $175,000 a year.

According to an undated copy of the club's AFL playing contract, Blues chief executive Stephen Gough – who took over from Ian Collins in 1993 – stated that my mutual agreement "payment will not exceed will not exceed $175,000 in any one year".

But court documents reveal Williams' payments did exceed this. An Australian Taxation Office audit of the Blues star's finances found that his taxable income in each of 1993 and 1994 financial years was $75,000 above $175,000. The following year, it was $49,995 more than $175,000.

In a letter to Williams' manager, Peter Jess, in December 1994, Gough confirms earlier discussions between the two over Williams' contract. Gough advises Jess that Williams would be paid a base amount in 1994 of $275,000, which would drop to $225,000 in 1995.

In 1996, Williams is offered $150,000, which is ruled out, and, in handwriting, replaced by what appears to be $190,000.

Across the page is a handwritten boxed figure of $175.

As part of his 1996 contract, Gough offers Williams an extra $30,000 if he wins the club best and fairest award; $28,000 for coming second; $26,500 for third; $15,000 for fourth; $14,000 for fifth; and $10,000 for sixth.

If Williams won another Brownlow (his third) he would pick up an extra $20,000, and a further $20,000 for playing 20 games in the year.

In the record of interview between Williams, Jess and the ATO investigators, it was noted there was a substantial drop in income from 1996.

The tax officers' report said: "Peter (Jess) stated that in 1995 there were moves to get rid of Greg and that in 1996 he was sacked by the club. The club renegotiated that contracts and Greg was forced to take a pay cut."

In 1997, Williams was sensationally suspended for nine weeks after pushing an umpire.

At the time, Jess said it was likely to cost the player $100,000 and Carlton took the matter to court.

But during an ATO interview, Jess admitted that this was an "overstatement intended to get leverage over the AFL, to highlight the fact that the suspension was extremely hard as it was going to cost Greg 40 per cent of his income".

Back to the Diary


Saturday, September 27, 2003

AND NOW, IT'S BACK TO OPTUS OVAL ...

It seems that the news in the Diary on September 1 was premature – Carlton president Ian Collins announced on Friday (26th) that Optus Telecommunications will continue its sponsorship for a further two seasons with an option of another year.

The commercial name of Optus Oval will continue until at least at the end of 2005.

However, Carlton are still without a major sponsor after the withdrawal of Mayne, but the retention of Optus is a major boost for the financially-struggling Blues.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

STAB KICKS ...
The Herald Sun reported that on Monday, John Elliott, the former president of Carlton, won an adjournment until next year of bankruptcy proceedings against him. The matter was adjourned to allow his lawyers to mount a defence.

A bankruptcy notice was served on Elliott last week by the administrator of former Victorian milling company Water Wheel Holdings, requiring him to pay $1.428 million by December 30.

Water Wheel Holdings collapsed in February 2000. A Supreme Court in June found directors had allowed the company to operate while insolvent between September 1999 and February 2000.

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Elliott 'life' on line


Herald Sun
September 10, 2004

JOHN Elliott's status as a life member of Carlton Football Club may be removed as soon as next week.

Blues officials are incensed with Elliott's behind-the-scenes involvement with the Stay at Optus Oval rebel group.

They believe the former president has been supplying the group with confidential club information favourable to retaining the Princes Park-based venue as a home ground.

Carlton, citing 81 per cent support for the move from members, recently announced it would host matches at the MCG and Telstra Dome from next season.

Carlton directors will debate Elliott's status at its September board meeting next week.

They plan to put the issue to a vote either then or at next month's board meeting.

The Stay at Optus Oval group is threatening legal action against Carlton for moving the home matches, and also believes it has met the requirements to call for an extraordinary general meeting on the issue.

The club, however, claims it has legal advice refuting the group's rights to seek an EGM and has declared it would pursue all legal costs from those associated with Stay at Optus Oval.

Blues vice-president Graham Smorgon hinted at the anger being directed at Elliott when he accused individuals of "pursuing personal agendas rather than what is best for the long-term interests of the club".

"It is also time for these individuals to come clean and name who is providing their backing and whether they have any previous association with the club," Smorgon said.

Carlton's financial forecasts on the move away from Optus Oval indicate it will reap more than $24 million over 10 years in playing at the MCG and Telstra Dome.

When the same costings formula was applied to Optus Oval, it suggested less than $14 million would be returned, and that significant and costly refurbishment of the venue also was required.

The club made a profit of just $2000 when 22,000 spectators attended the Round 21 Blues-Melbourne match at Optus Oval.

The life membership-removal plan is the latest development in an ugly war between the club and the man who was its president for 20 years.

Elliott was removed from the post after the Blues began to lose ground on and off the field in 2002.

He lost a bitter leadership battle with an Ian Collins-led group late that year.

While Elliott regularly attends Blues matches, he has not been welcomed back into the club's inner-sanctum.

Elliott's life membership was first debated at board level in early 2003, but directors opted to leave it intact.

They did, however, publicly condemn him by removing his name from an Optus Oval grandstand which it had adorned for 14 years.

The stand was renamed the Heroes Stand.

Back to the Diary


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Elliott loses appeal


Herald Sun
September 11, 2004

Former high-flying businessman John Elliott has lost his appeal to stop bankruptcy proceedings.

A full bench of the Federal Court yesterday dismissed Mr Elliott's case that administrators of his collapsed company Water Wheel Mills did not have the authority to file a bankruptcy notice against him.

The notices were filed last December by Water Wheel's administrator, Nic Brooke, after Mr Elliott failed to pay a share of $1.43 million owed to the company's creditors.

Mr Elliott's lawyer, Hugh Maclarin, said they were consideration an appeal.

Water Wheel was put into voltuntary liqudation in February 2000.

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

John Elliott to become a bankrupt
Creditors reject offer


A creditors meeting in Melbourne on Friday (28th) voted to reject the offer of failed businessman John Elliott to repay 5 cents for every dollar of his $9.2 million debt.

The Water Wheel rice company and four government authorities, including the Australian Crime Commission and the tax office, rejected Mr. Elliott's proposal. The administrator of Water Wheel Holdings, Stephen Longley, said while the majority of creditors voted in favour of the repayment at the meeting, the offer failed on the dollar value.

Crikey.com.au reported at a doorstop after the meeting, Elliott said he would declare bankruptcy on his own motion next week.

Speaking to ABC Radio News after the meeting, Mr Elliott was undeterred by the setback.

"Well it at least clears the decks," he said. "There's a couple of things I've got on the go which I will be working on.

"It's a bit restrictive in my daily life and I've got to put up with the ignominy I suppose of going bankrupt. But it's not the end of John Elliott – he'll be back."

Melbourne's Herald Sun recorded on Thursday, Mr Elliott's downfall began in 2003 when a Supreme Court judge found Mr Elliott and his fellow directors allowed Water Wheel rice company to trade when it could not pay its debts.

Mr Elliott was ordered to pay $1.428 million compensation and barred from managing a company for four years. A line of creditors linked to Water Wheel and the legal battles he had over the years with corporate regulators were seeking satisfaction.

Other creditors include his former wife Amanda, who is claiming $65,000 maintenance and friends and business associates, including the British-based Institutional Brokerage, which says it is owed $4.23 million for a 1993 loan and $292,603 in legal costs to the Australian Government Solicitor and Director of Public Prosecutions.

The 63-year-old Mr Elliott, a former Liberal Party president at one time was known to have been worth some $80 million, though in a document filed in December as part of the proposal he declared he had $50 in one Melbourne bank account, $177 in another and $68 cash in his pocket.

He was president of the Carlton FC from 1983 until his resignation on November 11, 2002.

Back to the Diary    150


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Princes Park is to die how it last lived in excess

by Patrick Smith
The Weekend Australian
Saturday, May 21, 2005


FOR many it has been a week to reminisce. Carlton will farewell its home ground today. Melbourne will be its rival. Both clubs were in the competition when it began in 1897. It is an end of an era in football. Thank God for that.

Carlton played its football at Princes Park before the economics of the modern game saw the ground renamed Optus Oval. The Blues' new home is now Telstra Dome. Ian Collins is president of Carlton and head of Telstra Dome. No wonder the club thinks the venue a comfortable fit. It didn't hurt that the AFL pushed the club to the Dome with handsome bonuses.

Melbourne plays at the MCG. Its new stand is near completion and, with Telstra Dome, the city can boast two of the finest stadiums in the world.

Optus Oval has memories for everyone. Some pleasant, some vibrant, some disturbing. The stench of urine from the toilets that seemed to coat your clothes for weeks is hard to forget. Or the car park that had room for just a bus, two cars and a trike.

The media has been on a wobbly walk down memory lane this week. There was Malcolm Blight's bomb from 70 metres to beat the Blues on the bell in 1976. There is no picture of Blight's goal. The newspaper photographers had left when Carlton was well ahead. There was a trots meeting to be covered and the first race was looming.

Essendon ran over the Blues in 1981. It was both famous and infamous. The Bombers moved Neale Daniher forward and he kicked two goals after the quarter had ticked past 30 minutes.

Mike Fitzpatrick lined up for goal but had the ball taken off him by the umpire for wasting time. Some fans claim he held the ball for just 11 seconds.

The oval was home to the bloodbath grand final of 1945 between South Melbourne and the Blues. Police moved in to break up scrimmages on the field. Ten players were suspended for 69 games. Such is the perverseness of football that this match is celebrated.

So Carlton players, officials and supporters are glum today. Optus Oval is now the burial ground of their memories. The mood isn't helped that under present coach Denis Pagan the Blues have won just 16 of 51 matches.

But Optus Oval stands for much more than Blight's bomb and the 1945 embarrassment. It stands for the arrogance and pomposity of the Carlton regime under John Elliott. It stands as a monument to excess and trickery.

It is literally the last stand of the self-indulgent reign of Elliott that began during the 1983 season and ended only when he was thrown out by members at the end of 2002.

The VFL was madness when Elliott took power. Clubs were going broke, the competition was going belly-up. South Melbourne had relocated to Sydney in 1982 in a desperate bid to survive. People weren't watching. The game was violent and unattractive, venues sub-standard. The suburban game had lost its cachet.

There had been talk of a breakaway league -- a collection of the competition's strongest clubs would cut away from the mob. All sorts of plots were hatched, machination upon machination. Self-preservation was every club's creed.

One for one and none for all. Salvation came with the establishment of the AFL commission. But Victorian football was still so weak that it expanded west and north to bring in teams and their millions. The national competition was a forceps birth.

The commission took over the running of the competition. They set policies and fixtures. The salary cap and the draft were introduced. The commission killed off Fitzroy and tried for a handful of other deaths by merger.

For all the apparent change of power from club to commission, it was an illusion. The salary cap and draft were constructions to level the competition, weaken the powerful and embolden the weak. But restriction on the players' money and movement had been successfully challenged in court by clubs in other sports.

The AFL clubs continue to have the steering wheel. They can render the commission powerless with one court challenge. Elliott knew it and was forever threatening.

Elliott ran Carlton and Optus Oval. He scoffed at a plan endorsed by other clubs for the AFL to make the new Telstra Dome its home. It would be a financial disaster, predicted the Carlton president. The AFL went ahead and sold Waverley Park to facilitate the deal to eventually take ownership of the new venue at Docklands.

Elliott had pushed ahead with the construction of the Legends Stand at Optus Oval. It was never popular, too expensive to sit in and it left the club in heavy debt. $15 million sat on the books. Today it stands as Elliott the President's tombstone.

Worse, it was to become clear the club had paid little heed to the salary cap ever since it was introduced in 1985.

Breach followed breach. The club joined the moratorium in the early 1990s to confess its sins but continued to negotiate with players outside the cap guidelines. In 2002, the club was exposed as a serial cheat with elaborate schemes to hide illegal player payments.

The club was fined $930,000 and lost critical early picks in the 2002 and 2003 drafts. Carlton was broke and humiliated. Collins was left to pick up the pieces.

John Elliott loves all things elephant. The Legends Stand is his biggest and dumbest. A white elephant that symbolised the excesses of a president who thought he knew everything and left behind absolutely nothing.

Princes Park is done with. Tears of sadness, years of shame.

Back to the Diary


Saturday, May 21, 2005

Grounds for debate

by Tim Lane
The Age
Saturday, May 21, 2005

It says something for the power of the AFL that there is scarcely a murmur of protest today as Melbourne's last suburban ground hosts its final game. Whether football's central administration has prevailed on the strength of compelling logic, or whether it has won by the power of the jackboot, is debatable.

It represents an interesting coincidence of timing, though, that the in-built flaws of Telstra Dome's surface have been highlighted again in this very week. Andrew Thompson described it as "slimy". The best surface available to the AFL has now been replaced by the worst.

Another interesting coincidence is that, only 20 days ago, the football community celebrated the opening of a new grandstand at Geelong. Frank Costa and Brian Cook were hailed as heroes who had saved their club. A little over 45 minutes from Telstra Dome they may be, but the Cats had thrown big bucks at developing their boutique stadium and everyone approved.

Yet for trying to realise the same dream at Carlton during the 1990s, John Elliott was derided. Indeed, it's arguable that the demise of Princes Park as an AFL venue is largely attributable to the antipathy, some but not all of it justified, that Elliott drew towards himself and his club.

Big Jack took on City Hall over many things. On the matter of the Blues' home base, he stitched them up. He clinched a deal that committed the AFL to playing matches there until 2006. Not only did Carlton stay, but other clubs were forced to play occasional home games at the ground, too.
Meanwhile, the stadium that became known as Telstra Dome was built and City Hall will eventually be its owner. Carlton's ground became the victim of a campaign of denigration. A venue that was once earmarked as the main stadium for the 1956 Olympic Games was demonised and dismissed as somehow not up to standard. In the end, everyone seemed to believe it.

Why it is sound economics for Geelong, but not Carlton, to consolidate and play matches at its home ground remains unclear. What clearly isn't sound economics is to spend something of the order of $20 million of football money on a stadium and then close it down. Perhaps it has more to do with the fact that John Elliott isn't president of Geelong.

It's worth noting that the Cats will play nine televised night matches (seven of them free-to-air) this season. Yet Carlton, we were told, would have cut itself out of a night-time television profile had it maintained its home base.

In so many ways, it's a pity. It's a very sad day for thousands of Blues supporters who have spent such a slice of their lives at the ground. One close to me once reflected that life rarely felt better than at the first bounce of a home game. It's sad for Carlton players. Earl Spalding once said, after the Blues had stormed home at the Heatley Stand end, that the team could almost smell the Social Club beer in the last quarter. That's the way it was.

It's sad for the present-day team. Even in the lean years, the Blues have been able to eke out a few wins at home. Last year, they won four out of seven. Although he'd never admit it, I bet Denis Pagan would love to have seven matches there this year.

It's sad for football. Its Melbourne-based clubs are becoming homogenised. What, with the draft, salary cap, ground rationalisation and so on, sometimes it seems the only difference from one club to the next is the uniform. Nothing says more about where these clubs came from than their grounds. Now they're all gone.

And it's sad the way it happened - a club brought to its knees by a combination of poor administration and vengeance eventually having to throw itself at the mercy of its ultimate masters. The egregious conflict of interest borne by Elliott's successor, Ian Collins, who is also the manager of Carlton's new home, added to the mess.

Football's fate is in the hands of the AFL Commission. It is a group of highly skilled and well-intentioned men. That's not to say it gets everything right. For a decade, led by Graeme Samuel, the commission pushed for club mergers. Two years ago, Samuel admitted the mergers he wanted would have torn the heart out of the competition. The commission isn't infallible.

Back to the Diary


Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sun sets over Carlton


by Martin Flanagan
The Age,
Melbourne, Sunday, May 22, 2005

The taxi driver, Yi, was from China. He’d been living in Melbourne 19 years and barracked for Collingwood because in 1990, when the Magpies won the flag, he was living near Victoria Park. “Coincidence,” said Yi.

Coincidence interested him — like the coincidence that some people had Carlton parents and it was “Carlton, Carlton, Carlton” from the time they were born. Yi said that to understand footy, you had to understand local culture. Smart man, Yi.

I got him to drop me in Lygon Street so that I could have a look at the suburb, try to imagine when it was poor and a home for migrants, Jews fleeing pogroms in eastern Europe, Italians from the big migration programs. I walked past Melbourne cemetery, thought of the cheers its residents would have heard over the years.

Reports of the 1945 “Bloodbath” grand final say the loudest cheer that day was when Bob Chitty, the Carlton captain — having knocked out two South Melbourne players in the second quarter and himself been knocked out in the third — rose and kicked the sealer midway through the final term.

This proud and highly successful club was displaying its silverware when I arrived and stood where the Carlton fans have always stood, in front of the Heatley Stand. No less an authority than Jack Dyer said around the time of the Bloodbath that Carlton’s supporters were even worse than Collingwood’s.

This was where they have always stood to give voice to their passions.

On the big screen, Stephen Silvagni was holding a baby, possibly to be known one day as SOSOS (Son of Son of Serge). Then they cut to the pre-match address being delivered by coach Denis Pagan. The function of the old Celtic poets was to sing the memory of the great ones into the consciousness of the people.

That’s what Pagan did. He listed the great players who had represented the club, which in turn represented the suburb of Carlton, and told his team they were privileged to be part of the day.

Melbourne took the field to a volley of abuse from the Carlton supporters. “Neitz,” cried one. “Leave the bouncers alone, you animal.” Then Carlton appeared. The sound was different from the one you hear in stadiums, which create a certain sort of crowd roar. Here, without the ring of high walls acting like the bell of a tenor horn, the sound was rougher, harsher.

That’s what greeted the Blues when they took the field led by Koutoufides and Camporeale. Last out was Fevola, known to the Carlton supporters around me as Virus. When I asked why, I was told the name’s origins lies in the fact that Fevola rhymes with Ebola but the young man telling me said, “Somehow, it fits.”

Antagonised by his opponent Alistair Nicholson from before the opening bounce, Fevola spent the first quarter out of position and rubbing heads with a queue of opponents like a young bull caught in the wrong paddock.

Melbourne was too skilful, too composed, too well equipped all over the ground. It did everything with ease. Carlton didn’t. The Blues looked stretched and rushed, and were frequently wrongfooted. Melbourne ended up winning by three goals. It should have won by 10.

Carlton’s biggest virtue on the day was that it didn’t give up. Only Kouta, the old ballroom dancer, really looked equal to the grandness of the occasion.

The third term I spent in the Heatley Stand with a couple of friends. Opposite was a big blue sky with a huge cloud that was luminous white in its upper strata. Birds crossed over. I remember one year the Footy Art Show had a sculpture of two seagulls on the top of the Heatley Stand.

Never again. No more late afternoon sun slanting in and illuminating 10,000 people, making each a brilliant spot of colour. For me, Princes Park was the best of the suburban grounds.

I came here when it was Fitzroy’s home ground, saw Gary Pert and Paul Roos when they were two of the best young players in the competition and the Roys were still a chance for glory. The Roys’ passing was horrible and brutal. In the end, a young team was pulverised into submission. There are no pleasant memories for me from that chapter of football history. Unlike yesterday.

Late in the last quarter, the crowd start singing the Carlton club song — for mine, the best of all club songs. When the game ended, a section of the crowd left but most remained. David Neitz, as Melbourne captain, received a trophy from the man who has helped define both clubs, Ron Barassi. The day still lacked a defining moment but then it had one. The Carlton players formed a guard of honour and through it walked John Nicholls, “Big Nick”, holding a ball aloft with one mighty hand.

Once upon a time, Big Nick was Carlton, an ambling superpower of the game who inspired fear and reverence with a glance. Moving with the gravity of a boulder, ball held aloft, he embodied the occasion. Lightning rods attract electricity in the air. Big Nick did something like that. All the memories, all the force of what this place has meant for more than 100 years, was summed up by his solemn intractable presence.

The man behind me had gallantly supported Carlton all day. Not one negative word had fallen from his lips. He had first come to the ground with his father maybe 50 years before, and told me that upon arriving earlier today, his late father was the first person he could see. I knew what he meant.

This place was one of the game’s sacred sites, a place where memories could be summoned and spirits danced into being. Some part of Carlton Football Club can never be taken anywhere else. I left, the sound of the crowd singing the Carlton club song still in my ears.

WHAT THEY SAID

 “For all of us, the day is tinged with a note of sadness . . . Just keep the navy blue jumper in mind because that’s what it’s all about. Today we are all part of history, not just of the Carlton Football Club but of the AFL. Today we celebrate the final game at the only venue to host games in every season since the foundation of the AFL in 1897: Princes Park/Optus Oval.” GRAHAM SMORGON, acting president

“It will be very emotional for me, I think a bit like going to a funeral — that’s the emotion. It was a real home to so many who came here on a weekly basis or a fortnightly basis over so many years. I have very mixed emotions. I know times have changed and we’ve got to go forward but it’s going to leave a huge hole in a lot of people’s lives.” - DAVID PARKIN, Carlton’s longest-serving coach and coach of the Blues’ team of the century.

“It is emotional but it’s also a celebration because we’ve had an enormous amount of success at this ground and there’s been some great sides and some great players who played here, mainly for Carlton but occasionally for other teams. Having played here for a long time, I’ve got some great memories.” - MIKE FITZPATRICK, Carlton dual premiership captain

“I remember watching some of the best footy I’ve seen a Carlton player play, and I watched it from the coach’s box. Koutoufides playing his footy at Optus Oval between round six and round 20 in 2000 — I haven’t seen a player play as good footy as that. Great memories.” - STEPHEN KERNAHAN, Carlton dual premiership captain.

HOW THEY FAREWELLED OPTUS

10.30am: Gates open.

10.50am: Carlton’s official pre-match function begins in a “Marquee of Memories’’, with 1200 guests, including past presidents — John Elliott among them — Brownlow medallists, coaches, captains and 300-game players.

1.10pm: Melbourne warms up on Optus Oval.

1.28pm: Carlton warms up on oval No. 1 outside Optus Oval.

1.35pm: A tribute to the history of the Carlton Football Club, presenting each of its 16 premiership cups to the crowd and featuring players from the club’s past 10 premiership teams.

Among those involved were Wayne Johnston, Greg Williams, Justin Madden, Stephen Kernahan, Mil Hanna, Stephen Silvagni and Tom Alvin. Part of Denis Pagan’s passionate pre-match address is shown on the video screens.

“Think of our supporters, some of who have been here for decades,” he urges. “You 22 players here today are very privileged. You carry the hopes and wishes of everyone at Carlton. I’d love to be out there with you.”

He named a list of champion players to grace the Blues there to watch them yesterday as well as champion players who had died. “I’m sure some are looking down on us and they’d love to be out on the ground with us,” he said.

2 pm: Carlton enters the arena.

2.09pm: Dual premiership captain and AFL commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick tosses the commemorative coin, Melbourne winning the toss.

4.48pm: Final siren blows, with Melbourne winning by 18 points.

4.52pm: Ron Barassi presents the trophy named in his honour to Demons captain David Neitz.

4.54pm: Captain Anthony Koutoufides collects the match ball from the centre square and holds it up to the crowd, showing it to every part of the ground. He walks over to John Nicholls and hugs him as the Carlton players form a guard of honour. Nicholls then carries the ball off the ground, holding it aloft, to a standing ovation.

4.56pm: The second siren. Fans invade the pitch, originally to the tune of Melbourne’s song. A hearty round of booing promptly ensures that Carlton’s replaces it.

Back to the Diary


Friday, June 10, 2005

Reality bites


by Caroline Wilson
The Age,
Melbourne, Friday, June 10, 2005

Carlton’s spectacular start to the year has been matched by its spectacular fall. As fans ask why, coach Denis Pagan tells Caroline Wilson that the Blues’ salary cap penalties did more damage than anyone could know.

The Indian summer weather matched the mood of the cautiously optimistic, even buoyant quartet who assembled for lunch at the Athenaeum Club in Collins Street five days before Carlton’s first home-and-away game of 2005.

Coach Denis Pagan was surrounded by his president Ian Collins, chief executive Michael Malouf and football director Stephen Kernahan for something of a pre-season get-together and post-Wizard Cup celebration.

Kernahan, the retired club champion and only director from the John Elliott regime to have stuck with the new administration, had been placed back onto the match committee at the start of 2004 at Collins’ insistence – the president believing Pagan’s assistants were too similar and that Kernahan’s leadership and presence was required.

Now “Sticks” was doing some urging of his own. He was one of an expanding school of thought which believed Pagan deserved a little faith in the form of a new long-term deal.

Although the coach still had a season remaining under his current contract, Kernahan believed he should receive, as he had subtly requested, a stronger commitment.

After all, Carlton had exceeded almost everyone’s expectations the previous year and had only the week before defeated the highly fancied West Coast to win the pre-season premiership – something that had proved a fairly handy formguide to the season proper during the recent past. Even the Blues’ dreadful defeats in 2004 had been followed by spirited rebounds the following week.

Although they all denied it at the time, the deal was done quickly and cleanly on the eve of Good Friday, two days later. The club, which had almost gone broke, and even hinted that the Elliott deal with Pagan at the end of 2002 had been too generous under the circumstances, tied itself financially to its coach until the end of 2008 with no significant pay cut.

Can that sunny time have existed less than three months ago? Eleven games and two wins and a draw later, Collins and Pagan lunched again this week. It was a leaner affair on several counts.

Collins, still recuperating from the heart attack he suffered after the loss to Collingwood in early April, dined on grilled fish without his customary chips as he communicated his support and various ideas to the coach.

Neither man would detail what was said – Pagan already that day had addressed a group of Nike executives and staff, and once again tried to make sense of Carlton’s false dawn and subsequent dark first half of the season – but clearly the problems posed by coming-out-of-contract pair Brendan Fevola and Lance Whitnall were given a going over, along with just who of the Blues’ young list was worth pushing for the rest of the year. Jarrad Waite and his solid form in 2005 was one of the brighter topics.

Had Pagan not been resigned in March, and given the Blues’ woeful form – coupled with the fact that no other coach in the AFL comes out of contract this year – the lunch would have raised more eyebrows.

Clearly, and despite all the other legitimate reasons for Carlton’s struggles, the club must be seen to do something at the end of this season should its players’ poor form continue.

Pagan baulked, however, at any suggestion that his group of assistant coaches required new blood. “I don’t see that attitude at the club,” he said this week. “You can change coaches for the sake of changing coaches, it’s players who make the difference.” Of his own performance, Pagan agreed that he had been forced to reinvent himself, as he said he had done before.

His recent public display, addressing the team before the last Optus Oval game against Melbourne, appeared staged and old-fashioned, but it was a duty that chief executive Malouf had insisted upon, not something Pagan had wanted.

It was not really him that the audience saw that day – a day most around the club believed worked superbly offfield but proved a season low point in a playing sense.

“I’m not comfortable talking about how I’ve changed,” Pagan said. “I’m sure you can reinvent yourself and there are ways you can do that, but I’ll tell you one thing, if I had Jonathan Brown playing at centre half-forward and Nick Riewoldt at centre half-back, I reckon I’d be doing a lot better.

“It’s not a nice thing ... nobody wants to be involved in this situation, but there’s no point thinking about the future and early draft picks yet. I couldn’t do that. We have to go out and try to win every week. But the fact is we were rock bottom when we had the draft choices taken off us and the punishment set us back even further.”

The Blues’ membership has never been higher but the crowd around the Carlton cheer squad last week was hurling almost as many insults at Pagan as they were at another favourite target, Scott Camporeale, whose work ethic, along with Nick Stevens and Anthony Koutoufides, Pagan praised this week.

Some knowledgeable fans were questioning whether the Carlton list was as bad as the club, the AFL and many commentators were claiming. How did it manage some of those performances in the second half of last year and win the Wizard Cup?

"People ask me that all the time," said Pagan. "Look, we were up and going early and had a much longer pre-season than some of the top clubs last year, and our forward line was starring and not so closely scrutinised by the opposition.

"It was terrific because it helped get us a major sponsor, but we probably did get ahead of ourselves. We lost players through injury, like Luke Livingston and Bret Thornton, and suspension and we never quite got the mix right. We won games last year that we probably shouldn't have, but the difference was we rebounded strongly after big losses."

Carlton re-entered the early stages of the national draft last November but the Blues' unexpected 10 wins and an 11th-placed finish had the club well away from the riches reaped by Richmond, Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs.

"I reckon last year covered a few problems," said Collins, who admitted 10 wins had far exceeded his own expectations. "The good thing that came out of it was that it was good for our members to see some better results.

"But you look at the team of individual men and you talk about A-graders and B-graders and so forth. We've probably got two almost half A-graders, a handful of B-graders and as for C through to Z-grade . . . well, we've got plenty of those.

"I honestly think there's still a lot of people out there who don't realise the predicament this club is in and the damage that was done to us."

Pagan, too, has repeatedly mentioned the punishment dealt to the Blues by the AFL following salary cap cheating, with which neither the coach nor his current chief executive nor his board had any association. "Give me some draft picks and I'll win you some games" has been the underlying theme of his post-match press conferences in recent weeks.

One of Pagan's favourite one-liners – and he has delivered plenty over the journey with his trademark deadpan aplomb – goes as follows: "Nobody wants to hear about the labour pains, they only want to see the baby."

Perhaps it is indicative of the club's current state of on-field despair that there has been more talk lately of the labour pains. Coaches love to tell you they talk reasons, not excuses, for losing, but some diehard Blues were surprised to hear Pagan point out the loss through injury of promising young defender Thornton as one key to the club's woes in 2005.

As recently as Thursday, when Pagan addressed a room full of Carlton supporters, many visiting from country Victoria, over a roast lunch in the social club, the coach was asked whether he required another assistant, given that he operated with a smaller coaching staff than most AFL clubs.

Pagan laughed. While he had already paid tribute to his team of long-time partner Tony Elshaug, Tony Liberatore and VFL coach Barry Mitchell – whose Northern Bullants have been far more impressive than Carlton this season – he made it clear that with a couple of extra players, he would be happy to do the job on his own.

Pagan said Sydney defeated Carlton last weekend because a group of the Swans' quality footballers – Brett Kirk, Adam Goodes, Michael O'Loughlin and Jude Bolton, to name four – rallied at once.

(The coach, incidentally, was clearly angry after the loss to Sydney and reportedly singled out his captain, Anthony Koutoufides, for strong criticism. When asked this week whether he had delivered the "spray", Pagan said he had been firm. Of Koutoufides, he said: "It was his first quiet game. He's been terrific for us all season.")

Pagan also spoke at the social club lunch of the youth of the Carlton defence, as opposed to the average ages of other sides' back lines and, again, of five brilliant young footballers playing at other clubs who could have been wearing navy blue.

"The AFL really wanted to bring John Elliott down and he's got off scot-free," Pagan said. "They can say what they like now, but they really have no idea of the damage they've done. The players, the staff, the coaches ... we know ... we work with it every day."

Responded league chief executive Andrew Demetriou: "In many ways, it's tragic that the burden is being carried by others. Denis Pagan is a fine coach and he's working with a list that is not what it should be. The board is working around the clock to deal with the horrific debt they've inherited.

"I don't think anybody who's at the club today bears any responsibility for what went on before. The penalties were not set against individuals but against the club, and unfortunately, the new people who are at the club have been punished for the sins of others.

"But we can't not punish a club that's broken the rules just because all the personnel has changed. Otherwise, it gives a licence to any club to commit serious breaches. But I'm sure Denis has days when he looks at his group and wonders what it might have been like with Daniel Wells and Brendon Goddard and others."

Back to the Diary


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Taxman shirtfronts Blues

The beleaguered Carlton Football Club was last night reeling after being hit by yet another financial disaster – a massive tax bill that could force the closure of the Blues' social club.

The Australian Taxation Office has ruled against Carlton and its complicated football-social club structure and demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid tax dating back five years.

The Carlton Social Club – the institutional headquarters for generations of the Blues' powerbrokers – could collapse under the financial burden as a result of the ATO ruling, which also has affected St Kilda to the tune of $50,000.

Already in dire financial straits, facing not only the 2005 wooden spoon and another operating loss this year, the Blues' board was still deliberating late last night after yesterday afternoon's gathering of the club's finance committee – chaired by president Ian Collins – to consider its parlous financial position.

"It's come as a big shock," conceded club chief executive Michael Malouf. "It's been very difficult for us financially and this is making our future even more challenging.

"We only learned late last week of our position and we are seeking legal advice as to where we stand. We do have an avenue of appeal."

While the tax office has not yet spelt out the extent of the tax debt, Carlton is looking at a devastating liability, given the success of its poker machine set-up at Laverton, one of the most successful venues in the country.

It is believed that the Blues' tax position – which could come close to a $1 million bill – looks certain to lead to a massive restructure of the complicated relationship that exists between the football, cricket and social clubs.

Blues director Bruce Mathieson's licensed poker machine connections have provided several options for the club to consider, but would lead to the club having to dissolve or merge its social club.

The Carlton problem follows a ruling by the taxation office that social clubs connected with sporting clubs do not qualify as not-for-profit organisations.

An early victim of that assessment, the Cronulla Social Club in NSW, was hit with a big tax bill.

Victorian AFL clubs operate under varying business structures.

Hawthorn chief executive Ian Robson said the Hawks' social club was no longer a separate entity from the football club and would not be harmed by the ATO ruling.

St Kilda, which has paid a small amount of tax on behalf of its social club at Moorabbin, is now looking at restructuring its business after receiving the $50,000 bill.

Saints chief operating officer James van Beek called a meeting of all his counterparts linked with the Victorian-based AFL clubs three weeks ago to assess their various liabilities.

However, Carlton appears by far the worst affected – news that could not have come at a worse time for the Blues, who continue to fight for independence and avoid turning to the AFL's multimillion-dollar competitive balance fund.

Not only does the club continue to operate under dreadful cash-flow pressures but it is also being pressed by ageing stars Matthew Lappin and Scott Camporeale for generous new long-term deals.

The latest blow from the tax office comes as the Blues are preparing for a potential buying spree and their first legitimate chance to pick up early draft picks for four years.

There is also the possibility that the social club could be relocated.

One option being considered by the board is the Manningham Hotel – with which Mathieson has close connections. It is now the after-match headquarters for the Brisbane Lions' Melbourne games.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Blues may be forced to seek AFL cash

Carlton is gathering legal opinions in its bid to fight a potentially crippling tax bill that could force the club to go cap in hand to the AFL for money from its competitive balance fund.

The Blues, already reeling after massive financial losses in recent years as well as the $930,000 fine imposed by the AFL over salary cap breaches, now face the possibility of a tax bill of about $1 million after the Australian Taxation Office ruled against its football-social club structure and found the social club must pay taxes dating to 2000.

The Blues have obtained an extension from the tax office and have until the end of next month to lodge an appeal against the ruling or lodge a return for the social club.

Carlton president Ian Collins yesterday labelled the ruling questionable, but said the club needed to "follow that through and get the proper advice in regard to that".

Should the Blues be forced to pay the bill, it would be another heavy burden for the club and, according to Collins, would leave it "sailing close to the wind" in financial terms.

In the past four years, Carlton has posted record losses of $7.5 million in 2001 and then $11.1 million last season as it devalued assets at its former home ground, Optus Oval.

Collins said the "kick to the shins" would put financial pressure on every aspect of the club. "It wasn't contemplated, so therefore it wasn't budgeted," he said. "To find those sorts of money is a bit like the AFL giving you a fine for a substantial breach of the player rules."

After the financial losses, the Blues had created a three-year plan to turn around their finances, a plan now under intense pressure.

Carlton CEO Michael Malouf continued to support the club's position that it would seek financial aid from the AFL if it was needed. "The president has said previously we don't have any hesitation, if we get ourselves into so much difficulty that we have to seek AFL support, then we would," Malouf said.

Collins agreed: "We have no compunction with that, that's what it's been created for. It's not for the exclusive few. If you are in that position, why wouldn't you apply and why wouldn't you receive it."

The Blues had thought the social club, as part of a sporting body, was exempt from tax but with the new ruling it is almost certain the relationship between the football club and social club will be altered in the near future.

"We will be forced to either wind up the social club or merge the social club into the football club because there is no doubt that we think it would be a terrible impost if we had to pay tax on any earnings out of the social club," said Collins.

It is the latest in a growing list of problems, with the Blues facing the possibility of the wooden spoon. "We can't take a trick, but out of adversity, usually comes something positive," Collins said. "So we will keep moving forward. We have had some issues to meet and try to resolve and there has been a number of those over a period of time that has become a challenge."

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Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Elliott exits, not with a bang,
but a whimper

There was none of the media maelstrom of 1993 when Mr Elliott and four former Elders IXL executives thundered from the Federal Court that the institutions had conspired to damage their reputations.

There was no filibustering, no last-minute requests for a stay, no appeals to higher authorities. No theatrics at all.

Instead just four people attended the brief hearing in the Federal Court yesterday morning, and they included Justice Donnell Ryan, his associate and a low-key lawyer acting for the NCA (now known as the Australian Crime Commission).

Mr Elliott is too broke to pursue the matter, and his trustee in bankruptcy, Stirling Horne, has no interest in picking it up.

"There was nothing for us to prosecute," Mr Horne said yesterday. "There was no upside in it, I just don't have the sort of money to run with it.

"It was not a matter that I wanted to spend a lot of time or effort on because I could see from the start that there was not going to be a lot of recovery for the (bankrupt) estate."

It has been more than a decade since the court heard anything of substance in the case, and more than 12 years since Mr Elliott and his cohorts indulged in a blitz of legal manoeuvres designed to keep their Federal Court actions secret.

Mr Elliott and the executives initially sought injunctions to stop the NCA from charging anyone with offences related to a curious series of multimillion-dollar foreign exchange transactions involving Elders IXL during the mid-1980s.

At the time Mr Elliott claimed the NCA was abusing its authority, and that it had participated in a "relentless and unremitting" politically motivated three-year campaign to damage his reputation.

Yesterday, after years of hearing that sort of spiel from Mr Elliott, it was perhaps a bit of a disappointment to realise that one of Australia's most litigious businessmen had quit the legal stage.

Clearing his throat, Justice Ryan peered from the bench and told the only lawyer present that notices had been filed with the court seeking to discontinue the case. He noted that, in any event, the application against the NCA was discontinued in December 2001, and the DPP and ABC had also been dropped.

This left the former Victorian police minister Steve Crabb on the ticket. Justice Ryan said the proceeding against Mr Crabb had been "on foot, but there has been communications from his solicitors that they do not intend to appear today".

"The order that I propose to make is that so much of the proceedings as have not already been discontinued, or dismissed, be dismissed and that, save for orders as to costs already made, there be no further orders as to costs," Justice Ryan said.

Justice Ryan in 1995 ordered that Mr Elliott pay the costs of all parties, and the DPP is claiming about $328,200 from his bankrupt estate.

The judge's latest orders are provisional and likely to be finalised in May, when an almost identical case initiated by former Elders IXL executive Ken Jarrett is scheduled to be brought to an end.

Mr Elliott was declared bankrupt in December 2004 after he failed to pay $1.43 million compensation to creditors of the failed rice milling group, Water Wheel Holdings.

In June 2003, Mr Elliott was barred from corporate life for four years.

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Thursday, April 6, 2006

Carlton sells venue naming rights for two years

It was reported Wednesday (5th) that Carlton has sold to MC Labour, a Melbourne building & civil construction labour hire company, the commercial naming rights to Princes Park for the next two seasons. Their website trumpets "the home of Carlton FC is now officially known as MC Labour Park."

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Collins to step down from Carlton presidency

The Age reports Carlton sources last evening confirmed Ian Collins is expected to formally resign as president at Tuesday night's board meeting.

Millionaire businessman Graham Smorgon appears certain to succeed.

Jake Niall notes the departure of Collins will further reduce the board, which numbered 12 when the Carlton One ticket swept John Elliott's administration from power in late 2002, to just eight members.

Since 2002, prominent former players Greg Williams, Stephen Kernahan, Ken Hunter and David McKay have all quit the board.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Carlton's new president
Graham Smorgon takes over

Following the resignation of Ian Collins, the Carlton FC on Tuesday night officially announced the election of Graham Smorgon to the presidency at the board meeting held at Princes Park.

Smorgon, a cousin of Western Bulldog president David Smorgon, has been the Blues' vice-president since November 2002.

Former Carlton captain, Stephen Kernahan was named one of the club's two new vice president along with John Valmorbida.

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Thursday, April 19, 2006

Collo's final snub

JIM WILSON
Herald Sun
April 19, 2006

FORMER Carlton president John Elliott says Ian Collins' decision to snub last night's board meeting is a clear sign that Collins reluctantly quit the Blues presidency.

Elliott said he wasn't surprised by Collins' no-show at the meeting, where he was to formally hand over the reins to president elect Graham Smorgon.

"Collo didn't front purely and simply because he was about to get rolled," Elliott said.

"There is no doubt he was pushed and several people at the club last week told me Collo was gone if he had stayed on."

Elliott, who was replaced by Collins in 2002, has also raised concerns about the leadership credentials of Smorgon.

"Smorgon is certainly not the man to lead the Carlton Football Club and I know that's a feeling shared by prominent Carlton people," Elliott said.

Collins was expected to formally stand down at last night's board meeting and offer his resignation as a director of the club.

Instead, he wrote a letter of resignation to the board yesterday morning. It is understood several Carlton powerbrokers were unimpressed with Collins' decision not to front, but the president elect was diplomatic about his predecessor's absence.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Departure not entirely of his own choosing


Caroline Wilson
The Age
Friday, April 21, 2006

THE EASTER mystery surrounding Ian Collins' sudden resignation as president of the Carlton Football Club went some way to being solved yesterday when his successor Graham Smorgon refused to deny that the Telstra Dome chief would have been pushed three nights ago had he not walked.

In a remarkably honest and open interview with key Melbourne media over lunch in the Blues' boardroom, Smorgon answered every question bar two. He refused to confirm or deny that Collins had lost the support of the board, and would not reveal what was said between the two men in their first conversation since Collins quit.

Clearly Collins, who took over the club in what proved a bitter and damaging finish to John Elliott's reign, would have quit when his position came up for re-election early next year. His position as chief executive of the soon-to-be-sold Telstra Dome was becoming, even by his own admission, untenable.

His health, always an issue for an overworked 63-year-old, had suffered a major setback last year also. But both those issues were red herrings. Collins, in an official sense, had had enough of Carlton and Carlton had had enough of him.

Would he have been challenged on Tuesday night? That seems to be the case. For several months directors had been pressing its high-profile president to name a date for his departure. Equally he had been pressed as to whether he would anoint Smorgon as his successor.

Collins had been rolled at the board table over a membership agreement with The Age, which the club said yesterday was less to do with an insulting front cover on this sports section than a threat from the Herald Sun not to give prominent coverage to big Carlton events such as the Blues' hall of fame dinner.

Certain directors – notably John Valmorbida and Lauraine Diggins – did not like Collins' presidential style. They were suspicious of his relationship with the media and his Telstra Dome conflict and believed (wrongly) he was responsible for repeatedly leaking stories to this newspaper.

The negotiations with the AFL for special assistance, as revealed by The Age and illustrated with a tattered Carlton flag, provoked a special board meeting in which those negotiations were put on hold. For Collins, the story combined with the board's response and with membership well down on last year, probably proved the final straw.

The potential new owners of "the Dome" – as everyone at Carlton in a bizarre irony refers to their new home ground – have stipulated they want Collins to remain at the helm but had no issue with his Carlton connection. Not so the Carlton board.

While the big picture was clearly becoming blurred for him, little things about his fellow directors had also started to infuriate him. For example, Diggins had demanded to know why Josh Kennedy had been given the No. 5 guernsey worn by her father Brighton without her being consulted.

Certain board members asked why they had to pay to attend club functions. And Collins was used to making quick decisions and moving on, not pushing them through the democratic process – particularly when he did not fully respect his fellow directors.

With Bruce Mathieson on the verge of resigning from the board and David McKay and Ken Hunter only recently departed, Collins told friends that the wrong people were staying on and the wrong people were leaving. Fewer and fewer directors supported him and with Stephen Kernahan determined not to publicly take sides, only Mathieson was told of the outgoing president's plans.

While he tried to convince Mathieson in the short-term to remain, Collins was desperate to introduce another player. Among those he reportedly put forward were Adrian Gleeson and Andrew McKay. He did not travel to Subiaco Oval for the round-two Fremantle game, which was telling.

Apart from hotel and gaming magnate Mathieson, Collins confided in close friend and AFL commissioner Bill Kelty, Andrew Demetriou and former Carlton director McKay. He reportedly left AFL chairman Ron Evans a telephone message and twice told Ian Johnson, Channel Seven managing director and Telstra Dome chairman, that he had had enough. Johnson would later claim he thought Collins was joking.

Another close friend, the AFL's Jill Lindsay, also suspected over that week that "Collo" had had a gutful of his football club in an official sense.

Collins would now say his departure was of his own choosing, but who ever resigned from Carlton mid-season totally of their own accord? Nonetheless, while he had vaguely tapped his feet to Jumping Jack Flash two nights earlier, the mood of Collins' theme was more Sinatra. He did it his way.

When Channel Seven's Craig Hutchison revealed the bombshell on the eve of Good Friday, Collins had his mobile telephone turned off. His second last official function as Carlton president was the Rolling Stones concert at the Rod Laver arena where he and his wife Mary watched as corporate guests of Telstra Dome's caterer Delaware North.

As Collins stood in a corner deleting his telephone messages while the warm-up band was playing, Melbourne Cricket Club and former Carlton chief executive Stephen Gough sat beside Mary Collins but had no idea of what was unfolding. As the concert finished, word filtered around of the Channel Seven report, but Collins said nothing.

In the lead-up to the Carlton-Sydney game, Collins did not return calls from any of his other fellow directors including Kernahan. In a carefully worded speech punctuated with analogies that anyone who knew him would have known were barbed, Collins adopted an Easter theme and declared obscurely: "The king is dead. Long live the king."

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Blues ordered Pagan to
recruit youth 'too late'


Caroline Wilson
The Age
April 21, 2006

CARLTON'S new president Graham Smorgon yesterday revealed that coach Denis Pagan had been ordered at the end of last season to adopt a youth policy and to adapt his coaching style to a less aggressive managerial model.

While Smorgon yesterday delivered a frank assessment of the Blues' current state and his plans for the future of the club, the 56-year-old Smorgon Steel chairman would not be drawn on whether his predecessor Ian Collins would have been defeated in a boardroom coup three nights ago had he not resigned.

"That's pure speculation as I have said previously," Smorgon said yesterday. "I won't confirm or deny it … Ian and I had a long talk yesterday … I will not discuss what was said."

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

They said it ...

Top Blue forecasts further fiscal pain
LYALL JOHNSON, The Age, April 22, 2006

NEW Carlton president Graham Smorgon has forecast short-term pain for the club due to its massive debt and the likelihood its membership figure will be down by about 5000 on last year's record total.

In his first speech as president — at the pre-match function at Telstra Dome before last night's clash with Hawthorn — since being elected unopposed to the position at a board meeting on Tuesday night, Smorgon spoke of the hard times ahead. He replaced Ian Collins as Blues president, after Collins resigned suddenly before the Carlton-Sydney game on Easter Saturday.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Pagan and Blues clash over cash

Caroline Wilson
The Age
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

THE tension between Denis Pagan and the Carlton Football Club has been worsened by a contractual dispute that has continued for most of the season.

The Age has learned that Pagan and his manager, Ron Joseph, have been trying to receive payments as part of a marketing contract established between Pagan and the club and overseen by Pagan's former manager, Michael Quinlan. It is believed the Blues failed to sign the contract and the disagreement came to a head several weeks ago when the AFL was forced to intervene.

Pagan, like most coaches, has two contracts with the Blues – a coaching deal and a marketing deal, believed to be a six-figure sum, that makes up at least 25 per cent of Pagan's overall contract.

The Blues are believed to have blamed their failure to honour the deal – or sign off on it – on the club's monetary constraints and financial obligations imposed on it by the AFL.

But the AFL has assured Pagan's management that it had no issue with Pagan's marketing deal and already had delivered a letter of financial assurance to the Blues. It is still not known whether Carlton has signed the marketing agreement, which was set up when Pagan joined the club in the last days of John Elliott's regime.

Joseph said last night: "There's been an issue that relates to his payment structure that has been going on for most of the year." Asked whether Carlton has since signed the marketing contract, he said: "I'm not going to comment on that."

Carlton chief executive Michael Malouf said: "Any issues involving contractual arrangements and the club are confidential. Denis has a two-year contract remaining with us and I won't comment any further."

The problematic issue comes on the back of the club's attempt, for the second successive year, to restructure the Blues' football department and replace Pagan's assistant coaches. The coach resisted attempts to challenge the performance of long-time lieutenant Tony Elshaug and his original contract with Carlton included the allowance of at least one assistant coach of his choosing.

When contacted by The Age last week, Carlton president Graham Smorgon would not comment on criticism levelled at him by Joseph after Smorgon had failed to guarantee the coach's future in an interview with the ABC. Smorgon and Pagan met last week to discuss his position as part of a far-reaching review of the club.

"Yes, there is a review going on," said Malouf. "I'm not at liberty to divulge the details. I am overseeing it along with a couple of board members and the overall review involves football and non-football areas."

As Carlton looks headed for another bottom-of-the-ladder finish, it also has received a $1.5 million loan from the AFL, along with a further $500,000 cash injection to help with the maintenance of Princes Park. The AFL also has insisted upon the attendance at monthly board meetings of commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick and has sent in former St Kilda chief executive Jim Watts to assist Malouf.

Pagan's future has been under scrutiny for most of this year and the AFL is believed to have told Carlton that any decision on his future would be the club's alone. Even without the marketing deal, the club would have to pay Pagan at least $1 million to remove him.

The football review is largely being undertaken by directors Stephen Kernahan and Adrian Gleeson. Kernahan's relationship with Pagan has become relatively strained in recent months.

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Thursday, September 7, 2006

Carlton sticks to contract
Pressure lingers over Pagan
Silvagni offered assistant role


Carlton president Graham Smorgon announced on Wednesday night that his club will honour the last two years of the contract of coach Denis Pagan.

After Carlton claimed its second successive wooden spoon last weekend the club was under pressure to make the position of Pagan clear.

Differing camps proposed that assistant coach Barry Mitchell may take over the senior role and indeed the former Swan presented his credentials to the Carlton board at its meeting on Wednesday. Mitchell also coaches Carlton's VFL affiliate the Northern Bullants.

There are expectations that former Carlton champion full-back Stephen Silvagni will be offered an assistant coaching position with the club and that Mitchell may even be dispensed with in a revamp of its football department.

When Carlton sacked Wayne Brittain in 2002 following their first wooden spoon, Pagan crossed to the Blues from 2003 after leading the Kangaroos during a 10-year tenure to the 1996 and 1999 premierships. Under Pagan, Carlton have won just 21 of 88 matches. His contract was renewed in March immediately after the Blues' victory over West Coast to claim the 2005 NAB pre-season cup.

Caroline Wilson in The Age describes the drama that emerged at Princes Park ...
moreBLUES FAIL TO SUPPORT COACH ...

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Carlton rumbles with threat to president

Carlton president Graham Smorgon is under increasing pressure to step down before the Blues' December elections, reports Jim Wilson and Damien Barrett in the Herald Sun.

A group, which includes premiership player Fraser Brown, intends delivering Smorgon the ultimatum; resign or be served with a no-confidence motion at an extraordinary general meeting.

Brown's group is plotting Smorgon's removal along with most of his board and will seek the support of Anthony Pratt, son of Carlton's wealthiest and most influential supporter, Richard.

Pratt runs the US division of the family's paper and packaging business, but is posed to return to Melbourne.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Blues director rejects calls to resign

Caroline Wilson
The Age
Friday, November 10, 2006

The bitter divisions within Carlton Football Club are threatening once again to come to a head with embattled director Lauraine Diggins refusing to resign despite a vote of no-confidence being passed against her at the Blues' most recent board meeting.

Having sought and received the unofficial resignation of his vice-president John Valmorbida, Carlton president Graham Smorgon has asked Diggins to resign, accusing her of betraying the board process by privately contacting AFL-appointed reviewer Jim Watts.

Valmorbida was told to resign after he contacted former director Stephen Silvagni in a bid to gauge his interest in an assistant coaching position during the Denis Pagan debacle in September.

Diggins, a respected art dealer whose father Brighton captain-coached the Blues' 1938 premiership team, is Carlton's first woman director and was part of the Ian Collins ticket that overthrew John Elliott at the end of 2002. She is understood to have been one of the directors not to have supported the recent reappointment of chief executive Michael Malouf.

Board sources at Carlton have alleged that Diggins approached Watts and spoke to him regarding the chief executive's position.

Diggins denied this, claiming she requested to see a full copy of the Watts report, which was critical of some board and management practices. The board was not given the full Watts review; instead, Malouf reported highlights to the directors.

While Valmorbida has put his intention to resign in writing, his departure and that of gaming magnate Bruce Mathieson will not be ratified until the last board meeting of the year on December 19.

Five directors are up for re-election: Adrian Gleeson and Richard Newton — both invited onto the board during the 2006 season — Smorgon, Marcus Rose and a fifth director to be chosen out of Diggins and Simon Wilson.

While speculation continued regarding a challenge to Smorgon's board, Mathieson denied yesterday that he was part of any challenge to the present board. "I'm out of there," he said. "What they do now is up to them. I have no intention of challenging anyone."

Diggins refused to comment directly to The Age when contacted yesterday. Instead, she chose to communicate through her public relations spokesman, Michael Smith.

Smorgon, on behalf of the club, has also engaged public relations advice. Smorgon was not available for comment last night. Of Smorgon's accusations, Diggins' statement read: "In order to fulfil my duties, I have sometimes taken steps to fully inform myself about issues before the board. This is my duty as a director and I make no apologies for it. This is what members would expect of a diligent director.

"While I am acutely aware of the level of disenchantment and unhappiness members and supporters have with recent events and publicity involving the club, I do not believe the best interests of the club are served by breaching the confidentiality of board discussions."

Of the pressure placed on her to resign, her statement read: "I have been grateful for the comfort and support from other directors during my time on the board and particularly during the last two weeks."

Diggins was warned by Smorgon before the last board meeting two weeks ago that he would be seeking a no-confidence vote in her directorship and request her resignation.

Diggins was also accused of departing the board process last year when she directly contacted AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan to seek recruiting advice.

That contact led to the board requesting – and receiving – an in-depth AFL assessment of the Blues' recruiting over the past decade, but Diggins was told at the most recent board meeting she had broken board rules by contacting Sheehan.

Two directors, Simon Wilson and Stephen Kernahan, spoke to the no-confidence motion in support of Smorgon, while Greg Lee expressed some discomfort with the process.

The no-confidence vote, a secret ballot taken on pieces of paper, was not unanimous and Diggins told the board she had been elected by the members and would not resign.

"At all times, I have worked hard to carry out my duties as a director fully, faithfully and responsibly," the statement read.

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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Fevola given caution by gardai

No action taken by Irish police

Carlton's Brendan Fevola on Monday returned to Ireland from a brief sojourn to Europe and met with police in Galway .

While no charges will be laid by police over the matter of Fevola putting a headlock on a barman at the Imperial Hotel in Galway on the night of October 29, the 25-year footballer was given an "adult" caution, which is similar to the often-used Juvenile Liaison Scheme caution, given to youngsters for misdemeanours.

Fevola is known to have lied to the Australian media over events surrounding the affair.

The Age noted the October 29th incident occurred following a day at the Galway races, during which most footballers drank heavily and then were given a free night with no real curfew.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Fevola returns home

Blues will penalise Fevola no further
Renee Switzer reports in The Age: Carlton's Brendan Fevola looked exhausted when he landed in Australia last night. Arriving to a large contingent of waiting media at Tullamarine airport, he made a quick apology about his behaviour in Ireland – which caused him to be expelled from the Australian international rules touring party after placing a Galway barman in a headlock – before a Carlton official stepped in to ward off any further questions.

As Carlton chief executive Michael Malouf explained that Fevola would face no further sanctions, the Coleman medallist posed for photos with children, and then left. Malouf said the club had thought "long and hard" on what to do before deciding on "no fines and no suspensions".

Fevola left Ireland soon after the incident on October 29 and spent several days in mainland Europe, before returning to Galway this week to receive an official caution from police.

He is expected to join his Carlton teammates for training this morning at Princes Park at 9.30.

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They said it ...
 

Smorgon optimistic, rumblings continue
MIKE SHEAHAN, Herald Sun, November 22, 2006

TALK to those on the outside looking in on Carlton and the picture remains unsettled, cloudy, threatening.

Talk to Carlton president Graham Smorgon and the view from the inside looking out is that the sun is starting to peep through.

Smorgon becomes more positive by the week, yet the rumblings persist.

Smorgon gives the impression all will be well when the board situation is resolved, specifically, when Lauraine Diggins is removed, even if she continues to dig her stilettos in at the board table.

Without apportioning blame, he said the problem would be eliminated by the scheduled departure of directors John Valmorbida and Bruce Mathieson at the December board meeting, and the inevitable removal of the stubborn Diggins, who has lost the confidence of her fellow directors.

Smorgon said the club finally had won control in what has been a prolonged financial battle, peace (albeit uneasy) had been restored to the football department, all major sponsorship opportunities ($50,000-plus) had been sold for 2007, and membership already was at 7250.

He said the Blues were budgeting for a $500,000 loss in 2007, expecting to break even in 2008.

Smorgon continues to work diligently towards peace at Princes Park, but the murmurings continue, too.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

l
Carlton settles with Adrian Whitehead

Stephen Rielly
reported in The Age: A six-year legal tussle between Carlton and one of its 1995 premiership players, Adrian Whitehead, has finally run its course.

It is understood that the Blues offered a confidential and substantial six-figure settlement to Whitehead on Monday, less than a fortnight before his damages claim was to return to the courts on December 5.

"The matter has been resolved and the appeal listed for next week will no longer proceed," Whitehead's lawyer, Paul Henderson, confirmed on Tuesday. "It is at an end."

In 2001, two years after retiring at the age of 24, Whitehead lodged a writ in the Supreme Court alleging that an injection administered by Carlton doctor Phillip Perlstein before a round-20 match in 1997 deprived him of the ability to protect his foot during the game and resulted in ruptured tendons, bone fractures and nerve damage, from which he was unable to recover.

The writ also claimed that Whitehead, who played the last of his 63 games for the Blues in 1999, was not warned that there would be a risk of injury should he play with the soreness in his foot masked by anaesthetic.

In July last year, Justice David Byrne of the Supreme Court found that Whitehead was entitled to compensation but not from Carlton, and advised the firmer player that as a one-time employee of the football club, he should instead pursue a settlement through the Workers' Compensation Act.

This avenue, though, which had the potential to allow other former players to lodge claims for injury through the workers' compensation system and, in turn, drive the cost of insurance premiums for AFL clubs and even other professional sporting bodies up, was subsequently closed by State Government legislation passed mid-year.

Next week's appeal was to be Whitehead's challenge to the Byrne decision and an opportunity to establish the right to pursue a common-law claim for damages against the Blues.

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They said it ...
 

Pagan thwarted by Carlton board
JAKE NIALL, The Age, December 14, 2006

Carlton coach Denis Pagan yesterday confirmed that the club hierarchy had prevented him from drafting colourful former Richmond and Essendon player Ty Zantuck.

Pagan endorsed Zantuck's version of events, reported in The Age yesterday, in which the Carlton board intervened and stopped the coach and his football department from selecting Zantuck, who would have been the final choice in the pre-season draft had he been picked.

"I don't want to get into politics of an issue like this but I was very keen to add Ty to our list and I thought he could have been a real advantage to our younger players with his robust style of play, but I was told that, you know, it wasn't appropriate or it wasn't the way they wanted to go and just left it at that," Pagan said on radio SEN yesterday, in an apparent contradiction of Carlton president Graham Smorgon's comments.

Smorgon had told The Age that the board did not intervene in this or any recruiting decision, although he did indicate that vice-president Stephen Kernahan and chief executive Michael Malouf would be involved in the decision-making process – a fact that might explain how Pagan was vetoed. Pagan also confirmed Zantuck's revelation that senior Carlton players had been keen for him to join the Blues. Zantuck told The Age that Nick Stevens, Brendan Fevola and Lance Whitnall had gone to the board and lobbied on Zantuck's behalf. It is believed the players spoke with Kernahan and fellow director and ex-teammate Adrian Gleeson.


Wednesday, December 14, 2006

Fevola involved with model after marriage split
Carlton forward Brendon Fevola in recent days returned to the headlines with the Herald Sun revealing he was having an affair with 19-year-old model Lara Bingle.

Fevola's in-laws on Wednesday released a mobile phone message they claim is proof the Carlton star was having an affair with Ms Bingle.

The Blues bad boy yesterday said he was trying to mend his relationship with his wife, Alex. Asked by the Herald Sun if he wanted to reconcile, Fevola was coy.

Mrs Fevola remained tight-lipped yesterday, with a woman's magazine believed to have paid for an exclusive interview. She admitted the pair had split, but would not comment on her husband's alleged affair. However her friends were adamant Fevola and Bingle were involved in a relationship.

The Herald Sun noted: Fevola and Alex were married on October 7 last year at St John's Church in Toorak.

The couple have a four-month-old daughter, Leni. Alex has another daughter, Mia, 6, from a previous relationship.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Pagan tries to clear the air over Zantuck

Carlton coach Denis Pagan went to some lengths on Thursday in relation to the failure of the Blues to earlier this week draft former Richmond and Essendon's Ty Zantuck.

Pagan on Thursday told radio station SEN he had been keen to get Zantuck because he believed his "robust style" would help with the development of the younger players and that he had been overruled by the board.

Speculation that the Carlton board interfered with the recruitment was strongly denied by president Graham Smorgon. Pagan confirmed the decision on the selection of players is made by the Match Committee in consultation with the National Recruitment Manager.

“In relation to Ty Zantuck, he joined our pre-Christmas training program on November 6th, without any guarantee, at my invitation, to give him the opportunity to perhaps be selected in the draft. It was decided several weeks ago that it was going to be difficult to select Ty. This decision was relayed to Ty at the time and he was formally advised last Thursday that he would not be selected by Carlton in the Pre-season Draft. This matter was not discussed with Graham Smorgon, nor was he involved in any way,” Denis said.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Carlton: two resign, four new directors
Tom (son of John) Elliott shows intention to run
Blues president Graham Smorgon confirmed on Tuesday the resignation of two directors – Bruce Mathieson and John Valmorbida – each citing work commitments which prevent them from having sufficient time to devote to the positions.

The announcement came prior to the board meeting at Princes Park on Tuesday night when four new directors were appointed, including two additional persons – Ralph Carr, Zac Fried, Mark Harrison and Stephen Moulton. That took the total number of directors to 12, but all but two of them must face the members in an election in February or March next year.

Moulton, is president of coterie group the Blue Suits, while Harrison and Fried are successful in the finance field. Carr is the director of Ralph Carr Management and Standard Records and is well known in the entertainment industry.

l Meanwhile, business Tom Elliott, the son of former Carlton president John Elliott, has confirmed his intention to form a new ticket to run against the current Blues board.

"I'm not applying to just get a position on the current board ... what I want to do, what I think is the right thing for the club, is to run as part of a new ticket," Elliott told Channel 10.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Carlton to face membership on February 6

The newly-enlarged board of the Carlton FC will face the membership at the Annual General Meeting likely to be held on Tuesday February 6th.

Jake Niall in The Age forecasts the board led by Graham Smorgon is preparing for February 6th which has already caused a challenge from millionaire former director Colin De Lutis to be withdrawn yesterday.

The Smorgon board however will still face an entirely separate challenge, with Tom Elliott, the 39-year-old son of former long-serving president John Elliott, still expected to be part of a rival ticket. Elliott, however, has indicated he is not interested in the presidency. Sources yesterday speculated that 1995 premiership player Andrew McKay had been appraoched by the Elliott ticket.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Peter Sinn to head new ticket

Fight for Carlton board intensifies

Peter Sinn, a partner at law firm Middleton's and Carlton's long-term lawyer has emerged as head of a ticket attempting to unseat Carlton president Graham Smorgon.

The Age reports Sinn yesterday confirmed he would head a five-man ticket alongside Tom Elliott, the son of former president John Elliott.

Jake Niall reports Sinn said 1995 premiership player Andrew McKay was one of a number of ex-Carlton players who had expressed interest in joining, though this, and the remaining three spots, were still to be finalised. It was unclear whether McKay would relinquish his role on the AFL's Match Review Panel if he did run.

Sinn has confirmed to The Age that his prospective board would retain coach Denis Pagan, who is contracted for another two years. "It's a contract and we honour all the contracts and that includes Denis' and the ($1.5 million) loan with the AFL ... we'll meet those conditions as well.

Sinn accused Smorgon – one of the 10 board members facing election at the Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, February 6th – of acting undemocratically by arranging for an election at this time of the year, when the offices were closed. Nominations for the board will close on January 6.

Sinn said his group, which would include at least one and possibly two ex-Carlton players (Mark Maclure will not be part of the ticket), wished to defeat the five directors up for election who had been on the board the longest – Smorgon, Marcus Rose, Simon Wilson, Lauraine Diggins and Richard Newton.

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Thursday, January 4, 2007

Carlton board battle hots up

Tom, son of Jack, quits challenge
Lauraine Diggins makes ferocious accusations

The battle of the boardroom at Carlton got juicier on Wednesday when Tom Elliott pulled out of his challenge as part of the Peter Sinn ticket, while standing board member Lauraine Diggins let fly with a 900-word blast against president Graham Smorgon.

In a statement distributed by a public relations firm, Diggins cited Smorgon of being a dictatorial president who "craved absolute power".

The Age noted Diggins – "Two AFL clubs have been given a Smorgon as a president. One of them is doing a great job. Unfortunately, it seems Carlton got the wrong one.

"Smorgon's chairmanship of the board is curious, questionable and contradictory. For months he stated that he was taking action to reduce the size of the board – then he increased it by suddenly appointing four new directors."

Diggins confirmed that she still intended to stand for election to the board, but would not comment on whether she might join other challengers against Smorgon.

Jake Niall reported in The Age that Tom Elliott yesterday said he and running mate Peter Sinn, who was to head the ticket, had been unable to finalise their planned five-man challenge before nominations closed tomorrow, but held open the possibility of a later challenge – Blues director says Smorgon is a 'dictator' – more

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Friday, January 5, 2007

Only 3000 of 12,000 members eligible to vote

Graham Smorgan bites back at critics
Independents join forces to challenge
Jake Niall reports in The Age that Carlton president Graham Smorgon on Thursday countered allegations from rebel director Lauraine Diggins when he issued a detailed written response to accusations he was undemocratic and that the chief executive and coaching position reviews had been bungled.

Smorgon said a majority of the board had wished to see chief executive Michael Malouf retained, no removed, as Diggins claimed. "The CEO would not be in his position if this was not the case," he said.

Smorgon also disputed Diggins' version of events about the confidential AFL report on the club's operations by ex-St Kilda chief Jim Watts. While Diggins said her requests to see the report had been denied, Smorgon said Diggins had been told she could see the report at the next board meeting, but had thereafter "made no such request".

Smorgon countered Diggins criticisms about board decisions, saying that the board had "unanimously" appointed Malouf and himself to determine the date of the election and to increase the board by four. He said Diggins "made no comments nor asked any questions in respect of any of those resolutions".

Director Simon Wilson said, contrary to Diggins' accusation, the Smorgon board had been democratic. "Everybody gets a chance to have a say."

However, the forces confronting Smorgon gathered yesterday when three independent candidates banded together to form a ticket to challenge at the election on February 8th.

Former Carlton Social Club directors Marcus Clarke and Ross Fiore have joined with Paul Littmann – a marketing executive who was a consultant to the AFL for several years – in a bid to win board positions and change the balance of power at the embattled club.

Fiore said the trio had been endorsed by the board members who resigned at the end of 2006 — powerful gaming magnate Bruce Mathieson and businessman John Valmorbida. Fiore and Clarke were involved in the toppling of John Elliott's board in 2002.

Clarke, the barrister son of champion distance runner Ron Clarke, has been backed by Carlton's triple premiership coach David Parkin.

Another ex-social club director Michael Spartels has nominated for the election, while former board member and past player Chris Pavlou also has indicated he will stand, with nominations closing today. The trio will not be running with Diggins, who is standing against the board of which she has been a member for four years.

Littman said he wished to give the Blues more of a marketing focus – saying his experience in sponsorship and marketing would help the debt-laden club generate revenue and repair the club's "devalued" brand – while Fiore said he intended to represent the interests of the rank and file members.

They also expressed disappointment that yesterday, only about 3000 of Carlton 12,000 members for 2007 were eligible to vote.

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Saturday, January 13

AFL loan balloons deficit
Blues record $2.2m loss on 2006

Damian Barrett reports in the Herald Sun that Carlton lost $2.2 million cash on the 2006 season, but has provisionally budgeted to break even this year.

The Blues recorded a $699,190 cash deficit last year, a figure that ballooned to $2,199,190 when a $1.5 million loan from the AFL was taken into account.

Debt sits at $8 million, down from $11 million in 2002, but up from $6 million in 2004.

Fifteen per cent downturns in both membership and merchandise, and a significant fall in gate receipts and corporate dining revenue contributed to the 2006 result.

Despite the grim-looking books, Blues chief executive Michael Malouf said the club was over the worst of its five-year financial nightmare – Poor Carlton budgets to break even more

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Monday, January 15

Diggins: Blues board is 'dysfunctional'

The Sunday Herald Sun reported Carlton director Lauraine Diggins has described the Blues board as "dysfunctional" as the infighting continues at the struggling AFL club.

A spokesman for Diggins said she had mailed a letter to 3600 voting members ahead of the February 6 annual general meeting.

In her pitch for re-election, Diggins recommended president and her rival Graham Smorgon should be among five candidates who members delete from their voting slip.

The feud between Diggins and Smorgon has become increasingly bitter in the past month, with Diggins accusing the club of withholding details of an AFL-commissioned report into the club operations. The club has denied this.

Diggins accused Smorgon of "trying to hide" parts of the report from board members.

Apart from Smorgon, she also named former player Adrian Gleeson, Simon Wilson QC, Ralph Carr and Marcus Rose -– who are all standing for re-election – as candidates that members should delete from their voting sheets.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ambitious Princes Park plan key to Smorgon ticket
The Australian reports Graham Smorgon's Unity ticket for Carlton's election on February 6 has proposed an ambitious $67million redevelopment of Princes Park as the best way of turning around the club and retaining his presidency.

The plans involve tearing down the $8m Legends Stand on the southern side of the ground and part of the Pratt stand, building a community sports centre, childcare facilities, function rooms and underground parking, creating extra parkland in the area, and building a massive glass edifice at the front of the complex.

Smorgon, who is seeking re-election along with nine of his fellow board members, said revamping the Blues' home was the best way to turn things around at Carlton after five years of poor on-field performances, dire financial results and political in-fighting.

The Age notes AFL spokesman Patrick Keane yesterday declined to comment on the election or the ambitious redevelopment proposal in the absence of League CEO Andrew Demetriou.

Fourteen people have nominated for 10 positions on the 12-member Carlton Football Club board.

The nine-member Carlton Unity ticket includes Smorgon, Ralph Carr, Adrian Gleeson, Mark Harrison, Zac Fried, Stephen Moulton, Richard Newton, Marcus Rose and Simon Wilson.

Vice-president Stephen Kernahan and Greg Lee were elected in April and are not required to stand again.

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They said it ...

Graham Smorgon defends poll tactics
JIM WILSON, Herald Sun, January 27, 2006

Carlton president Graham Smorgon has reacted angrily to claims the Unity ticket has been given preferential treatment before the Blues election on February 6.

It follows a report in yesterday's Herald Sun when the rival Driving Change Together ticket raised serious concerns over aspects of the election process.

The rival ticket has claimed the Smorgon-led Unity ticket should not have sent emails to voting members to canvass support.

Smorgon says his ticket has been completely aboveboard and strenuously denies any interference in the election process.

"I am absolutely categorical in declaring the Unity ticket has acted completely independent of the election process and any suggestions there has been interference is simply not true," Smorgon said.

"I wouldn't know how the process was being handled and we have acted appropriately throughout this campaign."

The rival ticket also raised concerns over the ballot process and election scrutineering.

Blues chief executive Michael Malouf yesterday backed the club's appointed independent returning officer. And Malouf also stressed the entire election process had been fair for all candidates.

"The club has not given preferential treatment to any candidate," Malouf said.

Company secretary Jason Reddick also backed independent returning officer Andrew Mansour.

"Mr Mansour has acted in the position as the independent returning officer for the Carlton Football Club for 14 years," Reddick said.

Mansour also acts as the Carlton club lawyer and works at the same legal firm as Peter Sinn, who was to lead a rival ticket to challenge Smorgon's Unity ticket.

But Sinn was unable to form a ticket earlier this month prior to the deadline for nominations. Voting for the election of directors closes at 5pm next Friday, February 2.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Marcus Rose: Struggling Blues worse off than Fitzroy

Mark Stevens in the Herald Sun reveals the blunt assessment of Carlton finance director Marcus Rose

Carlton is in a more perilous financial state than a dying Fitzroy and at risk of being merged or shipped off interstate.

That is the blunt assessment of the Blues' own finance director, Marcus Rose.

Rose, the mastermind of plans to redevelop Princes Park, said yesterday the club had to make significant changes to improve its income streams.

"Carlton's financial position is far worse than that of Fitzroy that was swallowed by Brisbane and sent interstate in the 1990s," Rose said.

"If the club does not make dramatic changes to improve its income generation, but continues to rely on the same things it has been doing, it runs the risk of either being amalgamated with another team or forced interstate by the AFL."

Described as a fantasy by its deriders, Rose said the $67 million redevelopment of Princes Park would wipe away the club's debt and remove it from the endangered list.

Rose, up for re-election on February 6 as part of president Graham Smorgon's Carlton Unity ticket, said the Blues now had no choice but to think outside the square.

Carlton Unity claims that the redevelopment and linked financial strategy will be outranked in size and boldness by only the AFL's $780 million media deal.

Rose said the struggling Blues' balance sheet showed $7.5 million in negative net assets.

"The club started the 21st century with more debt and liabilities than any other club has ever carried. Notwithstanding that the position has improved, its underlying financial circumstance has in effect proven to be intractable," Rose said.

"Carlton's position has reached the point where it can no longer be certain that the usual revenue-generating methods that it and the other football clubs have been employing will extricate it from its current and prospective financial circumstance.

"Membership, corporate sponsors, raffles, poker machines, donations and the like, as vital as they are, are unlikely to produce sufficient revenue, at acceptable margins, to guarantee Carlton's independence in the foreseeable future.

"Regardless of who comes to office following the election, if the club continues to do the same old things that it has been doing, and which are essentially being advocated by the rival tickets and candidates, the club, in my opinion, will not exist in its present form."

Fitzroy merged with the Brisbane Lions at the end of the 1996 season.

The Blues were a powerhouse in the same mid-1990s era, winning a flag in 1995 and losing only two games. Back then it was unthinkable that the mighty club would fall to the depths of the Lions financially.

The Carlton Unity ticket recently announced a proposed Stage 2 redevelopment as a key plank in its re-election campaign.

Planned to expand on the approved Stage 1 elite training facility, it would create a new community hub at Princes Park, initially to be known as Carlton Community Park.

The Stage 2 redevelopment also calls for the establishment of an investment company, CFC Investments, to develop and operate the new buildings.

"Once fully implemented, Carlton will be debt-free, it will receive future dividends and cash flow and see a significant enhancement in its balance sheet, which currently has $7.5 million in negative net assets," Rose said.

"I believe this strategy will secure the future of the club and its independence. It will re-establish the Carlton Football Club as the pre-eminent sporting organisation in the country."

Plans for Stage 2 will only go ahead if Rose and other members of the Carlton Unity ticket are re-elected.

"It will enable Carlton to reinvest in its football team by providing it with the infrastructure and resources, particularly in the sports medicine field, it requires," Rose said.

Rose said a series of negative factors had had an impact on the Blues in recent years.

The included a $1 million fine for salary cap breaches, expensive long-term contracts to leading players and maintenance of a deteriorating stadium.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Financial director resigns
Carlton refute claims made by Marcus Rose

Carlton's woes continued yesterday when outspoken board member Marcus Rose resigned.

Greg Denham reports in The Australian: The Blues' financial director stood down just days before a board challenge after he went public with claims that Carlton was in a worse financial state than Fitzroy, which was liquidated in its own right in 1996 before merging with Brisbane.

In an article in yesterday's Herald Sun, Rose also claimed that Carlton risked being amalgamated or forced interstate by the AFL if it did not dramatically improve revenue streams.

Rose, who has been on the Blues' board since 2002, is the third director to resign in recent months following the retirements of vice-president John Valmorbida and Bruce Mathieson.

Director Lauraine Diggins, who has repeatedly resisted pressure from sections of the board to resign, recently described the present board as dysfunctional.

Carlton president Graham Smorgon said yesterday he had accepted the resignation of Rose, and that Rose would withdraw from next week's election.

"The comments and statements made by Marcus are not the views of the Carlton Football Club and Marcus has admitted that if he were to conduct the interview again he would do so very differently," Smorgon said. "He understands the position his comments have put him in and as a result he has retired.

"The club is bigger than any individual and all directors and indeed everyone associated with the Carlton Football Club must act appropriately and not make comments outside the views of the club."

Smorgon said relocation or merging with another club was never, or ever would be, on his club's agenda while he remained in charge.

"I assure all Carlton supporters and indeed the football public that the Carlton Football Club will not be relocating or merging with another club," Smorgon said.

Rose's inflammatory comments yesterday brought an angry reaction from AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou.

"The AFL has been working with the elected committee and administration at Carlton Football Club to provide financial support to assist the club in getting back on its feet off the field, so as it does not need to rely on any outside assistance in the future," Demetriou said.

"Last year, the AFL announced a $2 million assistance package as well as providing a consultant in former St Kilda CEO Jim Watts to review the financial operations of the club and also having AFL commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick attend Carlton board meetings.

"I want to make it clear through all our discussions with the Carlton board and administration to provide financial assistance, there has never been any discussion of merging or relocating the Carlton Football Club raised by any member of the AFL executive or AFL commission.

"The AFL was extremely surprised to see this prospect raised by a Carlton board member this morning and, on behalf of the AFL commission, I wish to clearly state that this issue has not been canvassed at any time in any forum."

The Blues, who have finished on the bottom of the ladder for three of the past five years, have a debt of close to $8 million.

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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Carlton members decide
Smorgon and Diggins voted off the board

Carlton's traumatic off-season continued on Friday night, with president Graham Smorgon and director Lauraine Diggins both voted off the board after a bitter election campaign. The *Driving Change Together* candidate Ross Fiore also failed to pick up one of the 10 spots up for grabs.

Ralph Carr, Marcus Clarke, Zac Fried, Adrian Gleeson, Mark Harrison, Paul Littmann, Stephen Moulton, Richard Newton, Ari Suss and Simon Wilson were all elected to the board after 2700 ballot papers were returned by Carlton's 4879 registered voting members.

The elected directors will join Stephen Kernahan and Greg Lee on the 12-person Carlton board who will meet on Monday night at Princes Park when a new president will be chosen – Lee and Moulton are the likely contenders.

Carlton vice-president Kernahan, in congratulating the successful candidates, said: "It is a new-look board that will be working together for Carlton, with three new directors joining the board and with the members supporting the appointment of Ralph Carr, Zac Fried, Mark Harrison and Stephen Moulton, who joined the board in December."

Carlton's AGM is due to be held at the Princes Park Social Club on Tuesday night.

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

It's getting to know you time
as Blues delay presidency vote

Samantha Lane
The Age
Sunday, February 4, 2007

CARLTON'S new board will appoint a stand-in chairman for its annual general meeting on Tuesday night and delay its presidential election following Graham Smorgon's ousting by members on Friday.

The club's new 12-man board gathers for the first time tomorrow, some of them will even be meeting one another for the first time, before being introduced to senior coach Denis Pagan and the players.

But with one major and highly traumatic poll over, the new set of directors will not be casting their own votes hastily.

Greg Lee, one of the favourites to become Carlton's next figurehead, said he saw no value in making the key appointment simply for the sake of running a conventional AGM.

"Unless the board was really confident of the decision they were making I don't think we should be pressured into doing anything," the businessman said yesterday.

"It's a huge decision, it's a critical decision and it's important that the entire board is behind it and that we get the process right … a number of the board members have spent very little time with each other."

Lee, who won a position last March on what was then a 10-person board, did not have to stand for re-election. He met one of his fellow directors, businessman Mark Harrison, for just the first time yesterday.

Harrison was invited onto the board with Stephen Moulton, a chairman of law firm Mills Oakley, by Smorgon last December. While one of the freshest additions to Carlton's board, The Sunday Age believes Moulton – who is aligned with club legend Stephen Kernahan and director Adrian Gleeson – would win the presidency if it were voted on tomorrow.

And, given both he and Harrison believe the Blues are now dangerously reliant on the AFL, it would ensure some interesting times ahead.

When Moulton and Harrison became club directors last year they identified paying back the league's $1.5 million financial assistance package as a priority.

"They have thrown the club a loan and because of that they've assumed too much control and the interfering in the club's day-to-day operation must end," Harrison said in December.

"Both Stephen and I are committed to generating revenue streams and funds from Carlton people who will return to the club if we are elected.

"We cannot be reliant on the AFL. We must be independent and stand on our own two feet."

Three of the four members of the anti-Smorgon *Driving Change Together* ticket won spots on Carlton's new board – Marcus Clarke, Paul Littmann and Ari Suss. Suss was the only candidate on both Smorgon's Carlton Unity ticket and the Driving Change Together ticket, and supported by Lauraine Diggins, who ran a feisty independent campaign against Smorgon but failed to retain her directorship.

"Greg's experience on the board places him very well to be in the driver's position," Diggins said.

"The culture of Carlton is ingrained in him. And, given Carlton's current position, it's important that he is sensitive to balancing members, corporate supporters, sponsors and the AFL. I think he is."

Tomorrow, in what club chief executive Michael Malouf termed an "informal meeting", the new board members will watch Carlton's practice match before discussing the procedures for the AGM. Malouf said a serious chat about the presidency had not been scheduled.

"It's not a board meeting," he said. "It's just an informal meeting and there will be no decisions made, there will be nothing coming out of that, no decisions and no comment."

Lee, who has long been known to harbour ambitions to become club president, was coy about his aspirations yesterday.

"I really want to sit down with those guys and work out where their minds are and what proposals they have and what thoughts and ideas they have really before we even start talking about whether or not I'm going to put myself up or not.

"It's great that I've got a lot of friends around the footy club who think highly enough of me to push my bandwagon, but I really think at this stage I've just got to wait and see what happens next week and take it from there."

Approximately 2800 of the 4800-odd members with voting rights had their say in the election – the biggest turnout in Carlton's history.

However, Malouf yesterday forecast a report that would recommend constitutional amendments relating to future elections, including making votes secret.

Of Smorgon's departure, Malouf said yesterday: "It was a shock for Graham to lose … he's a man, in my view, of great standing and decency and integrity and he's going to leave a hole to fill on the board."

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Sunday, February 4, 2007

It's getting to know you time
as Blues delay presidency vote

Rohan Connolly
The Age
Sunday, February 4, 2007

CARLTON supporters used to seem to enjoy being the object of rival clubs' hatred. But it's not as much fun being the object of ridicule. And by Friday night, they'd well and truly had enough.

The board election that ousted president Graham Smorgon and fellow director and nemesis Lauraine Diggins didn't just make a point, it was more like Peter Finch yelling out of the window in the classic movie Network: "We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more".

If the poor handling of a number of key issues, most notably the near-sacking of coach Denis Pagan for his assistant Barry Mitchell, hadn't rankled enough, the past couple of months were insufferable.

They were a soap opera-like catalogue of name-calling and insults when a club on its knees could afford it least, Smorgon and Diggins scratching at each others' throats. It was unedifying stuff, and as a result the leads in the melodrama have been dumped from the cast for Carlton's new production, which is shaping as a horror movie. Or pure comedy, if you're one of those rival club supporters queuing up to stick the boots in, which has been pretty apparent, and instructive, over the past week.

Football supporters have long memories, which was demonstrated last week when another now-former director Marcus Rose made comments casting the Blues as a potential Fitzroy.

If Rose was looking to elicit some public sympathy for Carlton's plight, he pulled the wrong rein.

Even the odd token show of support, such as Collingwood "personality" Joffa donning a Carlton jumper, was on the premise that the AFL needed its most hateable club alive and kicking.

And it's not just the depth of that hatred, but its basis, which is intriguing. The Fitzroy comparison certainly irked old Lions' supporters, who remember well the scant regard they received from Carlton as a co-tenant of Princes Park in the 1980s.

The Blues weren't likely to receive much compassion from the Kangaroos, still smarting from the then powerhouse's attempt to take over that club getting on for two decades ago.

Nor St Kilda, which at its lowest ebb back then was regularly treated with contempt by Carlton, as well as a dumping ground for Blues' players past their prime. And certainly not the Western Bulldogs, any reminder of former Carlton president John Elliott's "tragic history" swipe still enough to make Doggies' fans blood boil.

It was easy enough back then for Carlton to claim from a lofty perch that it was "premiership envy".

But the common denominator in all that loathing hasn't been the Blues' 16 flags, nor a cavalcade of stars over the years who have given plenty of pleasure to football fans beyond Princes Park, but the high-handed, ego-driven arrogance of those outside the playing arena who have continued to determine the club's culture as much as, if not more than, any on-field success.

Former president George Harris set the tone by rubbing Collingwood's noses in it after Carlton had just pipped the gallant Magpies in the 1979 grand final. Elliott made it a calling card.

It's a perception that has stuck, even five years into a spell of misery. And the Blues have hardly helped change the popular view.

Few would ever mention the name Stephen Kernahan and arrogance in the same breath, but the Blues' legend and vice-president only underscored his club's stereotype when he signed off an angry speech at Carlton's best and fairest last year with a dismissive: "We're Carlton and f--- the rest!"

Five months after that, the view has only been underscored by an off-season in which Carlton's "suits" have again dominated the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Not through pulling together, putting heads down and bums up and turning around a dire situation, but with blame games that have overshadowed any rays of hope Blues' fans might be able to take from an overhauled playing list, and some promising recruiting.

The focus is going to remain off the field for a while yet, certainly until Carlton decides on a president and makes more genuine attempts to get its board at least heading in the one direction.

Greg Lee and Stephen Moulton are the popular fancies to take over Smorgon's presidential role. Neither has anything like the profile of their predecessor, let alone the likes of Elliott or Harris, which might well be their greatest asset.

Even the most starry-eyed fans have realised that the glory days are long gone. But it's also time they realised the days of tub-thumping and hairy-chested corporate swagger are over, too.

If the Blues are ever to get out of their current trough, they'll need quiet diligence, a bit more introspection, and a lot more humility. It's no coincidence that those clubs most successful on the field in football's new era tend to be those from whose boardrooms and backrooms you hear the least.

But Carlton fans will only know that's even a possibility once they can start hearing about the feats of Bryce Gibbs, Marc Murphy and co. at least as often as they're hearing about the latest board subplot or outlandish statement concerning the club from someone who hasn't pulled on a boot.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Richard Pratt appointed new Carlton president

Richard Pratt, who is believed to be Australia's third richest man, was unanimously voted in by the Carlton board of 12 directors last night, extending the board to 13.

They then unanimously voted him into the presidency, replacing Stephen Kernahan, who had filled the position on an interim basis since Graham Smorgon was voted out last weekend.

Pratt, 72, has been a lifelong supporter of the Blues and played a total of five seasons in Carlton's under-19 and reserve sides. He won the Morrish medal as the best and fairest in the competition in the under-19s in 1953.

He has previously served on the club's board as well as on the social club board.

Chip Le Grand reported in The Australian: Within hours of Pratt being confirmed as the new president, the club switchboard and website were overrun with previously disenchanted supporters seeking to renew their membership. Within weeks of chairing his first board meeting, Pratt will have reviewed his senior staff and identified the changes to be made. In the meantime, he is intent on lifting Carlton's damaged spirits and restoring its pride.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pratt lures John Elliott into Blues fold

Mark Robinson
Herald Sun

Big Jack is back at Carlton. John Elliott, the deposed former president, will chair a new coterie group on the request of new president Richard Pratt, a long-time friend.

Elliott's agenda is simple: raise money and get people from the 1980s and '90s back at the club.

"It's wonderful news," a beaming Elliott said yesterday.

"Anything I can do for Carlton I will, Carlton has been my life, I love the club and I will do anything Dick asks me to do."

Elliott, who played a pivotal role in convincing billionaire Pratt to become president last week, was the Blues boss from 1983 to 2002.

His return, after a four-year lock-out, comes amid suggestions chief executive Michael Malouf is under threat to keep his job.

It is understood Pratt favours bringing in his own chief executive.

Elliott yesterday refused to comment on suggestions that he had masterminded Pratt's move on the presidency.

Despite his silence, it's understood Elliott had been working tirelessly to convince Pratt, a long-time Blues benefactor, to stand against former president Graham Smorgon and before that, Ian Collins.

Pratt, who will inject personal wealth into the club, had refused to take on Smorgon and Collins because he didn't want an election showdown.

It was Elliott who set up last week's meeting between Pratt and Blues vice-president Stephen Kernahan.

Elliott yesterday refused to be involved in a photograph at Princes Park, preferring to take a back seat to Pratt's presidency.

Elliott was ousted by Collins at the end of 2002 after serious salary-cap rorting was revealed. Carlton was penalised more than $1 million and lost draft selections.

As president, Collins and his board renamed the Elliott Stand the Legends Stand, a move that hurt Elliott deeply.

Asked yesterday about the possibility of a renaming, Elliott said: "Who cares. There are more things to worry about.

"Dick wants me to chair a coterie group which would include all the eminent people of the 1980s and '90s, the people there when I was president, and I will be working to get decent donations into the place.

"Carlton is a mile behind in the marketing of the football club."

It is believed Elliott is considering a range of names for the coterie, including the David Parkin Club, and is also thinking about honouring Kernahan.

"That would be good, but I think there's already something involving Kernahan," he said.

Elliott again said the Blues should play four home games at Princes Park and move other home games from Telstra Dome to the MCG.

"We lost so much money because we lost the social club," he said.

"And we have to make Carlton a power again."

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

l
Lance Whitnall gets the Carlton captaincy
Carlton announced Wednesday that Lance Whitnall will take over the captaincy for season 2007. Since his debut as a 17-year-old in the opening round of 1997, Whitnall has played 201 games and kicked 329 goals. He played all 22 matches for the Blues last year and won the club champion award.

The new captain heads a large leadership group which surprisingly includes Bryce Gibbs, the South Australian rookie yet to play a senior match. The leaders are Whitnall, Brendan Fevola, Brad Fisher, Bruce Gibbs, Marc Murphy, Kade Simpson, Heath Scotland, Nick Stevens, Bret Thornton, Jarrad Waite and Simon Wiggins.

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They said it ...
 

Blues to appoint new football chief
CAROLINE WILSON, The Age, March 7, 2007

Fremantle football manager Steven Icke looks certain to be appointed to the football operations position at Carlton following the withdrawal of a number of candidates reluctant to deal with the dysfunctional relationship between Denis Pagan and Barry Mitchell.

And the AFL jobs merry-go-round has continued to revolve, with Peter Schwab – another frontrunner for the Blues' position – set to resign as chairman of the AFL's match review panel to take the top job at AFL Victoria.

The Age believes that Icke, 50, the former Kangaroos and Melbourne defender, along with Schwab and former Richmond coach Danny Frawley, were the last three in the running for the Carlton position, an expanded role following Grant Williams' departure earlier this year.

That trio, along with several others approached, all voiced concerns about the seemingly unworkable relationship between Pagan and Northern Bullants coach Mitchell, who applied unsuccessfully for the senior coaching position last September and barely has spoken to Pagan since.

Banished to the other side of Princes Park, Mitchell is continuing to develop the Blues' younger players in an operation virtually everyone in football regards as untenable. Carlton's refusal to rectify the situation has given the impression that it does not regard Pagan as anything but a short-term prospect, a fact not lost during this current interviewing process.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

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GM Stephen Icke moves from Fremantle to Carlton
Steven Icke resigned on Tuesday as Fremantle general manager after six years with the Dockers. He will move to the same role with the Carlton FC in the next fortnight.

Steve Rosich, current GM of Marketing at Fremantle will assume the position of General Manager of Commercial Operations in place of Icke.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Pratt team devising 100-day reform for Carlton

Jake Niall
The Age
Friday, March 16, 2007

CARLTON'S new president Richard Pratt has installed a team of his own senior Visy advisers and executives at the club and is working on a dramatic "100-day plan" to reinvent the debt-ridden, bottom-of-the-ladder Blues into a power over the next three to five years.

The billionaire has seconded senior staff from his giant packaging and recycling business Visy to assist the club's management.

Pratt also has brought former Carlton and United Breweries managing director John Murphy – now a leading corporate consultant – to help draw up the 100-day plan, which covers financial and football strategy for the future.

This follows his hiring of former club great Rod Ashman and journalist Tony de Bolfo – Visy employees who will work full-time at Carlton.

In other developments from the Pratt revolution:

u Pratt has met Premier Steve Bracks to discuss potential community and commercial uses for the club's ground at Princes Park. While Pratt is fond of the ground, it is considered unlikely that home-and-away games will be played there in future, given the club's contracts with Telstra Dome and the MCG.

u Carlton players and coaches soon will hold a team-building session with former defence force chief Peter Cosgrove.

u Pratt also has met National Australia Bank's chief executive Ahmed Fahour, himself touted as a prospective Blues' president, to discuss the club's $7 million debt to the NAB and a possible restructuring of the debt. Visy, which turns over about $3 billion in its Australian and American operations, has a commercial relationship with the NAB.

u Pratt has spoken to Barry Mitchell, the coach of the club's VFL affiliate the Northern Bullants, who does not communicate with senior coach Denis Pagan, and let him know he is aware of the issue with Pagan.

u Pratt has told the Carlton players and coaches what he expects of them and predicted that they will finish about 10th on the AFL ladder this year – a performance that would exceed expectations outside the club.

u Pratt has met AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou and new chairman Mike Fitzpatrick – the latter he knows well from Carlton board days – to discuss a range of Carlton issues and seek advice.

u Pratt has been holding regular conversations with Pagan, at least once a week, since he took over the club.

u Pratt has sought advice and information from a variety of other friends, experts and influential people, including trucking magnate and former St Kilda president Lindsay Fox and former AFL boss Ross Oakley.

u Pratt has made clear that while he will contribute more funds, he will not bail the club out of its debt by himself and is focusing on making the club strong in the long term.

But the most dramatic action taken by Pratt has been his decision to implement a three- to five-year plan – which will replace the more fiscally-constrained plans of the debt-conscious previous Carlton board – and to send his own senior financial managers, plus high flyer John Murphy, a consultant to Pratt's Visy, to create a new Carlton.

Carlton chief executive Michael Malouf said Murphy had worked with him on the 100-day plan.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Blues take second pre-season title in three years
Carlton boosts morale with NAB victory

In a matter of weeks, Carlton have revived their fortunes in an astonishing manner and capped off a morale-boosting period by winning the NAB crown from Brisbane in the pre-season competition grand final played on Saturday night at Docklands Stadium before a big crowd of 46,094.

Carlton midfielder Nick Stevens won the Michael Tuck Medal as best afield after collecting 26 possessions to become the first player to twice win the award, having done so as a member of Port Adelaide's 2002 win over Richmond.

Final scores: Carlton: 2.12.0.7--97 beat Brisbane: 0.10.0.12--72.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

NAB Cup success

Blues expect membership boost

Carlton's NAB Cup grand final win on Saturday night will have a positive effect on the club's bottom line, says chief executive Michael Malouf.

Greg Denham in The Australian reports: Speaking after Carlton's 25-point win over Brisbane at Telstra Dome, Malouf predicted his club should now at least break even in 2007, after several years of poor financial results.

He said the club's pre-season premier status would not kick in financially for a few days, but merchandise sales and sponsorships were several hundred thousand dollars up on last year.

"There are strong signs that the confidence in the club is higher than last year and what's happening on the field is having an impact off it," Malouf said.

"There is still a lot of risk in revenue streams, but the $220,000 first prize will go straight to our bottom line.

"We're in a far more comfortable position than at the same time last year."

Malouf said Carlton's membership was above expectation.

"We are at 25,500, which is 6000 more than at the corresponding time last year and I think that about 3000 of those are because of our pre-season form and the other 3000 because of the (new president) Dick Pratt factor," Malouf said.

The Blues budgeted for 27,500 members this season after signing fewer than 29,000 in 2006, a decrease of almost 15 per cent on the 2005 record of 33,534.

"I'd be disappointed if we didn't reach 30,000-plus, after last night's win," Malouf said. "Obviously, a lot will depend on the start of the season, but I reckon 40,000 of the 46,000 at Telstra Dome were Carlton fans."

Last year Carlton was the only club in the AFL to attract revenue of less than $20million and its turnover was less than half that of arch-rival Collingwood.

The Herald Sun reports: Richard Pratt's determination to have Carlton return to its former might will see him provide his palatial residence, Raheen, for high-powered functions.

Damian Barrett notes the new Blues president hopes to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the club's book from two Thursday night gatherings in the next fortnight; a quasi guernsey presentation night for sponsors and a launch of an exclusive "high-powered" coterie group.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

l Greg Swann appointed new Carlton CEO
Carlton has appointed Collingwood boss Greg Swann as the club's new CEO.

Swann has signed a three year contract, and says he is excited about the challenge of joining Carlton at this unique time in its history.

He replaces Michael Malouf, who's been Carlton's chief executive since 2003.

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