Carlton bashing resumed this week with new of the departure of CEO Cain Liddle, meaning this season has seen the departure of a president, coach, four board members, and three assistant coaches.
The Blues are once again in crisis, we’re told.
In upheaval? Yep. Not doing business how they should? Well, it’s been harsh.
Crisis? I’m not so sure.
This turmoil might be the next step in a cultural change that has long been called for.
Consider the state club was in circa 2000 – that was an actual crisis. A complete failure in drafting and list management was exasperated by a series of poor financial investments. They had no players and no money – before they were hit for breaching the salary cap.
To get back to being a powerhouse, they had to get the club right, then the team.
After over a decade of middling (and denial), Mark LoGiudice became president in 2014 and promised to focus on getting the club part right. Liddle was running Richmond’s commercial operations when he moved in 2017 and he delivered what it said on the tin.
The team still idled on the field, but they leave the club with no debt, nearly 70,000 members and soon to be improved training facilities.
First part, tick.
Incoming president Luke Sayers has planted his flag on changing direction to focus the football operations and getting Carlton back in the top eight – the logical next step.
Conducting a review mid-season has given him the information he needs to implement change and an entire off-season to do what they need to. Sayers set a goal, gathered information and is now implementing a plan.
Perhaps John Barker was the canary in the coalmine – the long-serving (perhaps too comfortable?) assistant coach knew what was coming and left before the review started. Coach David Teague also knew it was coming, but decided to start swinging at the board, the players, and the media.
With the departure of Liddle, a commercially focussed CEO, the staff bloodletting is complete.
Sayers needs to ensure the people who are at the club next season have the ability and shared vision to achieve his goals – more football-experienced people to build on the commercial gains.
There will be bumps, fails and surprises along the way. Will he succeed? Well, who knows, but he has given himself the best chance to implement his vision.
The changes at Carlton will feel familiar to anyone in a public organisation when a new boss comes in. Loyal staff will jump, old managers will be pushed, staff will feel the heat to perform to expectations they don’t understand.
It’s been quick and brutal, but this isn’t a crisis – this is a calculated step for a club finding its way back from the brink.