Collins vows to stick it out
By Jake Niall
November 17, 2005
CARLTON president Ian Collins has indicated to members that he intends to
continue leading the club through what he has described as the "most
difficult time in club history".
Collins has taken the unprecedented step of sending a long letter to all
of Carlton's 33,000 members in which he outlines the club's financial
problems in detail, braces members for a loss and apologised for a
"totally unacceptable" season on the field.
In explaining the financial circumstances that afflict the Blues, Collins
cited a series of commitments his board had inherited â€” including an
apparent reference to the money it owed past players in under-the-counter
payments that were outside of the salary cap.
Carlton has owed past champions Stephen Silvagni and Craig Bradley
substantial sums that were promised to them in under-the-counter payments
while they were playing â€” debts the club acknowledged in its annual
Collins listed four underlying factors that explained Carlton's financial
difficulties, particularly its ongoing cash flow problem.
They consisted of the debt from the construction of the Legends Stand,
substantial long-term player contracts that would expire at the end of
2006, the nearly $1 million fine for salary cap cheating and what Collins
termed "a number of commitments (contracts) to former players, which were
'off-balance sheet' that had to be extinguished".
The Age understands that Collins was referring to the illicit payments
Carlton promised to the likes of Silvagni and Bradley and which, at the
urging of the club, prompted the champion pair to tell the AFL of the
illicit payments when the Collins board swept John Elliott's
administration from office back in 2002.
Collins said that the Blues would have been forced to take the drastic
step of using the AFL's competitive balance fund for struggling clubs had
it not relocated its home games from Optus Oval to Telstra Dome and the
MCG. Collins, as the chief executive of Telstra Dome, removed himself from
the contentious talks that led to the Blues embracing the stadium he
Collins indicated his desire to continue on as president when he told
members: "I am however now fully fit and have never been more committed to
the Carlton Football Club and am energised to see the club achieve success
both on and on the field."
Collins' declaration quells speculation about his future, which followed
his health issues in 2005, when he had a heart attack and serious leg
Carlton insiders also have been aware of talk about potential challenges
to the Collins board, which will be reduced by two when past players David
McKay and Ken Hunter finish up at year's end. At least three directors â€”
club legend Stephen Kernahan, John Valmorbida and Chris Pavlou â€” face
Collins told members that the recent review of the football department had
concluded that the club was under-resourced, "particularly given the
required fast track development of a very young list of players". This had
led the club to install new technology and hire new coaches Terry Daniher
and ruck specialist Gary Dempsey.