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Blues cut ties with gambling sponsor in 'cultural shift'

Swan ponders future, Hogan fires up Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson with Wednesday Footy Feed
AFL 2015 Training - Carlton 111115
Carlton CEO Steven Trigg
It's a cultural shift. There's a lot of things at Carlton we've been aiming to and are shifting
CEO Steven Trigg

CARLTON has joined seven rival AFL teams by cutting ties with gambling sponsors as part of the 'reset' club's efforts to take a stronger stand on social issues.

The Blues have announced a new three-year partnership with the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation, with aims of reducing gambling advertising to people under age 18.

Carlton has profited from sponsorships with William Hill and Sportingbet in recent years.

But now the Blues have joined Richmond, Essendon, Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs, St Kilda, Collingwood, North Melbourne and A-League club Melbourne Victory in pledging to end ties with sports betting companies.

The move continues the cultural shift at Carlton, which includes the Blues striving to improve their inclusiveness and gender balance – highlighted by Victorian equal opportunity and human rights commissioner Kate Jenkins' joining the board.

"It's a cultural shift. There's a lot of things at Carlton we've been aiming to and are shifting," CEO Steven Trigg said. "Our desire (is) to be leaders in a host of social issues and this one's really important.

"To call out the elephant in the room, there's been a perception of Carlton over a long period of time in terms of its (poker machine) venues and it's not incongruent, it's totally congruent to take a responsible gambling position right across the club and we're very pleased to be involved."

In the wake of Collingwood boss Gary Pert reiterating his claim that illicit drugs are the biggest problem facing AFL players, Trigg said gambling was another major social issue to confront.

"Hopefully for our supporters there's a sense of pride that Carlton has drawn a line in the sand and said 'right, we're going to take a leadership role in all of this'," he said.

"It's important and we think we can make a difference in the community."

Carlton will undertake a standard of best practice about how to run its pokies venues and increase education about the pitfalls of gambling to players and staff.

Trigg said poker machines remain an "important part of the commercial model of most clubs".

He believed that was unlikely to change in the near future, although the AFL and club CEOs are in ongoing discussions about the issue.

Meanwhile, Blues coach Brendon Bolton conceded Dale Thomas would regret striking Swans defender Jeremy Laidler in an incident that will cost him a spot in the season-opener against Richmond.

"We're a footy club that likes to play on the edge, however looking at the hindsight, and I think Daisy's looked at it, he would've done things differently, no doubt about that," Bolton said.

"Our whole playing team gets a really strong learning opportunity from that."

Bolton said the Blues were "quite optimistic" about skipper Marc Murphy (shoulder) taking his spot against the Tigers following another strong training session on Wednesday.

Jacob Weitering seems assured of a debut next Thursday, although Bolton said the No.1 draft pick needed to get through another week of training after showing "really positive" signs in the NAB Challenge.

In other news, Blues president Mark LoGiudice has offered cautious praise for Collingwood counterpart Eddie McGuire's bold Victoria Stadium proposal.

"It's a great idea and it might be good for Melbourne," he said.

"But from what I understand and have read in the paper he's talking about selling Etihad Stadium for a billion dollars and the new stadium's going to cost a billion dollars.

"If they're the numbers, then I don't see the financial sense in actually doing it.

"We need to understand what's in it for who's going to play there. 

"We'll do what's best for Carlton at all times, whether that's Etihad or the new stadium or the MCG."