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Cups back on the agenda: Carlton blueprint revealed

Power talks as clubs meet, Cats' hard call, more Matt Thompson and Mitch Cleary with the latest news

THE ONCE mighty Carlton Football Club has publicly pledged to return to its premiership-winning ways inside the next five seasons. 

In a document titled The Carlton Way 2019-23, the Blues have stated they will implement strategies which will see them committed to working toward:

  • "sustained on-field success that wins us premierships" in AFL and AFLW
  • securing 100,000 members
  • attaining a 50,000 average crowd to home matches
  • eliminating debt
  • implementing "the most influential gender equality program in sport"
  • finishing the Ikon Park masterplan 

Blues chief executive Cain Liddle, his staff and the Blues board have worked on the contents of the paper for the past 12 months, and felt releasing it to members and the public a week before the start of the 2019 season was perfect timing for a club which has languished outside of finals footy for 13 of the past 17 seasons.

"Our board, management, staff, players and coaches are working tirelessly to improve our football club.  We commenced our strategic planning process in early 2018 and have clearly articulated our vision for the next five years, along with our priorities and key targets," CEO Cain Liddle said.

"We have heard our members loud and clear, they want sustained high performance on and off the field that wins us premierships.  That is now a key pillar of our vision."

Under the headline, "Where We Are Heading", and a sub-headline, "To Be The Leader In Australian Sport", the Blues have said they will be accountable for all on and off-field actions.

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A key platform of the document is the statement, signed by Liddle and president Mark LoGiudice: 

"Now it is time to own our future. That future continues to be shaped by our vision – a vision that delivers our members premierships, makes our people proud to represent the navy blue and uses the power of the Carlton Football Club to impact the communities within which we work".

"… we believe that a united football club, relentless in the pursuit of excellence who hold ourselves and each other accountable, can achieve anything. That is the Carlton way."

Carlton president Mark LoGiudice. Picture: AFL Photos

Carlton boasts the most premierships – 16 – in the AFL, but its last success was 1995, and it has not been in a Grand Final since losing to North Melbourne in 1999.

In contrast with its on-field achievements and off-field clout to that point, it has been embarrassingly inept since being penalised by the AFL in 2002 for salary cap rorting.

It is coming off wooden spoons in 2018 in both AFL and AFLW, though the Blues’ women’s team is a premiership contender in the 2019 season.

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The club this week announced a record membership, a significant achievement for a club that finished on the bottom of the ladder in both its football programs in 2018.

"To have surpassed our previous membership record of 56,005 is a true sign of the incredible belief, support and loyalty of the Carlton faithful and this wave of momentum now sees us on track to pass our target of 60,000 members for the first time in the club’s history," Liddle said.

"Our strategic plan highlights our ambitious plans to harness the power of the Carlton supporter base and almost double our membership base to 100,000 by 2023.  It’s an exciting journey that we are on and we want to share it with as many of our supporters as possible".

Liddle, who joined the Blues at the end of 2017, worked closely in Richmond’s senior management with Brendon Gale when the Tigers, in 2010, took a bold public approach in their strategy to end years of under-performing.

Blues CEO Liddle (right) celebrates the Tigers' 2017 flag with Brandon Ellis. Picture: AFL Photos

The "3-0-75" project, which projected three finals appearances, zero debt and 75,000 members, sharpened all aspects of the club’s operations, ultimately leading to the 2017 premiership.

Early in his first stint as Hawthorn president, Jeff Kennett oversaw strategic planning which led to a public pledge, under a campaign titled "five2fifty", to strive for two premierships and 50,000 members in the ensuing five years. 

Despite their poor recent on-field record, and through what has been a tumultuous period for AFL clubs and their major sponsors, Carlton has also locked away all four of its major sponsorship assets on lucrative, five-year deals with Virgin Australia, Hyundai, La Trobe University and Ikon Services.

Download The Carlton Way 2019-23 strategic plan (6.5MB)