On Monday evening, the Carlton FC held its AGM. Having been to a few, I knew what would be happening and it had nothing to do with the reports or the elections for the club. It had to do with a faction within the supporter base that is hell-bent on pushing their own agenda under the guise of them stating that they are speaking on behalf of the members!
So here is a brief run-down on what transpired with regards to the actual reporting of the past year at the club. Firstly, President, Mark Loguidice stated that this is not the forum to discuss anything other than the financial reports and the reports required by the regulations of an AGM. He thanked the members for their continued support of the club and its direction and the fact that the club has a historical record number of members being over 50,000. This is an increase of 10,000 members for the same time last year.
He understood that the team had a challenging year on the field and that the Board and the club understand what is ahead and thanked the members for believing in the vision that they all hold for the club. He stated they are committed to the future goals of the club being growth and success. He reiterated the 5-year continual partnership with Virgin, Hyundai and La Trobe University and named a few other organizations that were going to be part of the future of the club. This includes a continual investment in relevant technology to move the club forward in an era of advancement in technical and digital equipment.
He talked about the Governments financial input in the re-development of Ikon Park to the tune of $35million ($15million from the Federal Government and $20million from the State Government). He stated that the Board is committed to sustainable growth for the club and understands that with a very young, but talented group and there will be challenges ahead. He thanked Kate Jenkins for her time on the Board. Thanked past players in both AFL and AFLW teams and then opened the AGM for questions from those that attended. Here is where it really got off the rails, not a bit, but a lot!
Some of the questions were actually quite valid (even if they came from those who want to disrupt the solid and continual growth of the way the club is now). One of the questions was with regards to the poker machines. This got quite heated as Loguidice and Liddle were not really given a chance to answer as they were being continually harassed as they replied. My feeling is that those who want to disrupt how the club is finally becoming solidified and is building for the future, and would not allow any rational answer; and there was a rational answer, must learn respect. It was stated that the club could not just cut-off the revenue from the poker machines without being completely in debt. But they are working on ensuring that hopefully in 5 years’ time, the value of the revenue from poker machines diminishes to the point that it is not a major factor in their financial statements. That in the future they can cut ties to the reliance on poker machines.
Being in business, I understand that you cannot just cut-off a huge part of your revenue just with a click, but it takes time to re-organize, re-structure and re-develop revenue to ensure that the fallout from this cut, has no major ripple effects. For those that only see the club’s glass not half empty, but breaking, this was not enough.
The question was raised about the deal with Marvel Stadium and Ikon Park. That the club is kowtowing to the needs of the AFL and are in fact, cowards. This was met with incredulous gasps as to the actual naivety of what it takes to run a club in the modern era. Loguidice and Liddle tried to answer this and was again met with callouts of lying and being cowards. They were asked why games can’t be played during the AFL season at Ikon Park. Even though an answer was given, for some, it was just not acceptable.
I’m going to answer this in a way that I wanted to answer at the AGM, but there is a time and a place, and this was definitely not the place. The ground holds about 18,000 people. With the redevelopment of the ground, it will still hold that number of people. The ground is in the inner city of Melbourne with limited parking and only trams as public transport. It cannot hold even small games at the ground as the facilities around it are simply not adequate enough. The ground is near a university, hospital, parks that host other sports during the weekend. It is near the city and it is simply not viable. It won’t happen. Gone are the days when the competition was VFL and it could hold the supporters. Now it is totally different, and these people must understand this and come out of a past that while glorious, has gone. It is time to concentrate on the future of the club and the team that is being built up from the ground to ensure future success.
The club is not kowtowing to the AFL, they are ensuring the future of a club that has now over 50,000 members and if half attend a match, plus the opposition, there is no way that the club can play at a ground that only holds 18,000. The redevelopment of the ground and the facilities will become a major sporting inner-city precinct for both men and women’s teams. It will become a hub for the club and an educational setting for the partnership that the club has set up with La Trobe University.
One person even yelled out that the club is going to move to Bundoora where La Trobe is located. That was laughable and Loguidice stated that the club has a 45-year lease with the Melbourne City Council and are in talks to extend that even more. This was, of course, not acceptable to some.
This is when it got really heated because the small faction started yelling and called for the sacking of all Board members and Loguidice who they state was corrupt and cowards. They stated that they were speaking up on behalf of all members. I could not help it, but I did yell out, not for me you’re not and so did others.
These people and they do the same each year, do have the right to voice their views, but they don’t have the right to be disrespectful, which they were or assume they have all the answers when they had a chance to stand for election to the Board, but did not.
It is easy to be critical and pass judgments from the sidelines without knowing or understanding what it takes to make a once-floundering club, but to where it is starting to grow. If the club is so wrong in the way it is going, why did Crippa, Dow, Curnow, Fisher etc. etc. re-sign to the club? Why has membership risen to record levels? Why is there a rise in positivity around the club and a culture that has been lacking for a long time? If it was up to these few, then we should be going back to the days of the ’80s which we cannot. We must embrace the present and commit to ensuring the future will be all that we, as supporters, want it to be. We must be BOUNDBYBLUE. I am and damn proud to be.
P.S FYI if these people who want to bring the club down run for election, I can guarantee you that I will put my name down and fight them!