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Carlton – What’s going on?

By August 6, 2021No Comments

Carlton – What’s going on?

It’s no secret that for ten plus years that our once mighty Blues, the 16 Premiership winning club have been the AFL nobodies. Despite slogans such as They know we’re coming” and “can you smell what we are cooking”, it has all been rhetoric.

Recently incoming President Luke Sayers has instigated an external review of our football department.  This has come on the back of another underwhelming year, a year where the club and supporters would have expected better results including a finals appearance.  Funnily enough though, whilst this review is still being undertaken we are in a position where finals are a chance.

Regardless of this, a review of this type is well overdue.   The club is expecting the results very soon, and it is anticipated it will not be released to the members.   Being a member owned organisation I do find these staggering, and key findings surely can be released without exposing confidential information.  We shall wait and see on this.   An interesting point to note is that current President Mark Logiudice noted that this review would not include the coach.    This was directly contradicted by panel review member Matthew Pavlich who confirmed that it would encompass the whole football department, including the coach.  Do the board members actually talk to each other?

Other recent developments that have come at an interesting time to say the least is recommendations of several constitution changes.   Changing the constitution of any organisation should not be done frivolously.

Out of the 2019 AGM this email came from Mark Logiudice to members:

8. A Review of the Club Constitution

As promised at the AGM last year, we are reviewing the Club’s Constitution by engaging independent legal advice and consulting with stakeholders to modernise and implement changes to progress the growth and values of the Club as a stable and inclusive community. Once the review of the Constitution has been complete, we will provide members the proposed changes to the Constitution for their consideration.

Now this statement seems to be a bit ambiguous, but I could read into this that members would be given the opportunity to consider the changes, not do so by directly putting the changes to a formal vote.

This also from the President in April this year:

The second is to complete the reform of the Club Constitution as promised at the last AGM. This reform will see governance improvements, proper acknowledgment of athletes of all genders and recognition of our Indigenous history. Importantly, we will address membership anomalies that currently preclude some important membership categories from being recognised as voting members of the Club.

Then last week the proposed changes to the Constitution were released to members, details of which can be found here: https://resources.carltonfc.com.au/aflc-carl/document/2021/07/25/400b4bbe-388a-4ca1-a8f0-6065a719582d/Notice-of-General-Meeting-2021-17-August-Meeting-.pdf

As you can see here there are Constitution change recommendations that go further than what was noted in the Presidents email of April 2021 and include increasing the numbers required to force a General Meeting, allowing persons that have not been a Carlton Member for longer than 2 years sit on the board and increase the minimum Presidency period.

Now I’m not going to go so far as to question the motivation of these changes, but former Carltonians President and club Life Member Vince Loccisano has not been backward in coming forward in condemning the timing of these changes, the lack of notice to members, the inability to separate the vote for each particular proposed change and he has as even gone as far as accusing the board as trying to underhandedly increase their power and board standing.  He makes some interesting points.  You can hear his impassioned argument through our recent interview with him on Carlton Live:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-1f6Yd7w6E

Whether or not you agree or disagree with some or any of these changes or what your thoughts may be on the motivation for some of the changes, being able to vote individually on each proposed Constitutional change should be a no brainer.

For what it’s worth I happen to agree to most of the Constitution changes.  However being able to effectively have a person that has not been a member for at least two years (imagine having an Essendon supporter on our board) is ridiculous.   If there aren’t enough qualified Carlton people around to fill a board vacancy, then I’ll bare my bum in Bourke Street.

Another change is to extend the minimum term of a President to 4 years.    Whilst on the face of it, this doesn’t seem to be a bad idea.  I think 4 years is a reasonable minimum for a President to be in place, but it is clear that this change is being bought in for one person, the incoming President Luke Sayers.  Sayers has already serviced 9 years on the board. Next year will be 10 and his first year of President which means he will only be able to serve three years in the top job (12 year total director limit) 

It does have a hint of arrogance to it, particularly as the club haven’t really explained their change reasoning very well.   There is a fair argument that this change should have happened previously though but either way it has been handled poorly.

I happen to think Sayers would make a pretty good President and certainly has the business credentials behind him.  As noted, he isn’t even in the hot seat yet but commissioned the external review. On the flip side however, he has also been on the board for 9 years already and that is 9 years of on field failure that he has been a part of overseeing.  

This review is only looking at the football department.   I wonder if the review findings will highlight any negative impact the board has on the football department.   We will never know.

Let’s not forget, it is the board who appoints the CEO.  They ratify coaching selections and are influential in decisions such as football director appointments.  In this regard we have seen the sacking of Stephen Trigg, the sacking of Stephen Silvagni, the sacking of Brendon Bolton.  Where is the review of the board for these failed decisions?

The review of the board is our job…Members!   This is not a club owned by one person, such was the Sydney Swans back in the 80’s when Geoffrey Edelston was the owner.  This is a club owned by Members.   

For me being a member is more than just entry in to the footy and a free hat, it is the feeling that I am part of the club, contributing to its success and failures.  That I’m contributing to the financial wellbeing of the club and that mostly that I have a vote and a voice in who is entrusted to run the club at board level.

With the independent nominations committee in place and the board filling casual vacancies at will, I feel that it’s a harder job to have my vote mean anything.     I feel that there is a lot of apathy amongst fellow Blues when it comes to their vote.    Through my social and general Carlton connections I hear passionate blues comment on all things to do with the club.  It’s why I always suggest to them that if they aren’t they become members so that they can contribute in what happens at the club, but can they really?

I have even heard from Members in the last few days that they didn’t even know they had a vote and or have ever received communications regarding ever using their vote.

With the constitution changes, Vince Loccisano took concerns directly to the President and requested that the individual items be able to be voted on separately.  He did not receive a response, which has now triggered Vince to petition and call for an EGM for a total board spill.  I have no doubt in his resolve to do this.  

This is a BIG deal.

The Carlton Board have achieved some phenomenal off field and business related achievements in the last few years, but on field it has been an abject failure.  

We are a footy club and our business is winning Premierships.   I don’t need to remind fans that our last one was in 1995, when I was a young bright eyed 20 year old.  It’s too long ago.  The board have promised us success and it hasn’t happened.

I know that a board spill will cause disruption to the club, but I think it’s about time it happened, and the timing is right for now.  If the incumbent directors are the right people, then I trust our members to re-elect them.  If there are other candidates out there that want to put their hand up and they have the ability and passion to be on the board, then I trust our members to elect them also.

Watch this space and go Blues!

Trevor Wollard

Member ID 1050170

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