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Someone is conducting secret polling of footy fans about Carlton President John Elliott. Let’s hope this person is planning a long overdue palace coup against the drunk.

Dear Crikey

Just thought you’d be interested to know that it seems someone – a newspaper, the AFL, Carlton itself? – is about to go gunning for John Elliott and is gathering up ammunition.

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine was rung up by a polling company – like they always do, at about 6.30pm, just as he was about to sit down and have his dinner – and asked if he would like to do a poll about “People associated about football clubs”.

Normally he’d tell them to waste someone else’s time – going into detail about what laundry powder he likes is not his idea of fun – but this one sounded interesting. Apart from the fact the pollster was from Sydney and didn’t know the first thing about the AFL, it was very interesting.

After the usual guff about age, sex, income etc, the first few questions simply asked if you associated certain business people with AFL clubs – Joe Gutnick, David Smorgon, John Elliott, etc. He was then asked what non-current players do you associate with Carlton (one of his answers to this was “Alex Jesaulenko”, but the pollster didn’t know how to spell that so my friend said just put down “Jezza”). Then the poll moved right in on Elliott. This is a paraphrase of some of the questions, as he remembers them:

* What opinion do you have about John Elliott (Friend’s answer: He’s a crook, and should have gone to gaol).

(Editor’s note: this is contrary to what happened in court and just one bloke’s opinion so don’t sue us for defo Big John.)

* Do you think John Elliott as president is a positive or negative on the Carlton football club?

(Friend’s answer: Negative – for example, if wasn’t for Elliott’s hamfisted negotations, they’d still have Aaron Hamill).

* Would John Elliott as president influence your decision to support Carlton? (Friend’s answer: Yes, if his club (Roos) ever folded, Carlton would be an option if it were not for Elliott).

And possibly the big ‘un:

* Does John Elliott have a positive or negative influence on your attitudes towards Carlton’s sponsors?

(Friend’s answer: Negative [He actually had no idea who Carlton’s sponsors are, but guesses it isn’t the Quit campaign]).

There were other questions in similar vein which he can’t remember, and even an opportunity at the end for a free-form rant where you could sound off about John Elliott in any way you like. My friend took the opportunity to recall the day Elliott got up in front of the crowd at Princes Park and thanked “everyone” for their support during his recent trial, putting his fist into the air and gloating “I got off!” He seemed genuinely mortified when he was roundly booed, and beat a hasty exit. [I think it significant he said “I got off”, not “I was rightly found to be an innocent man”. Didn’t the Crown’s case depend largely on the evidence of a man who pleaded guilty for the same crime at an earlier trial and got three years?]

(Ed’s note: Former Elders finance director Ken Jarrett actually served six months and he went to gaol over a separate issue relating to a $78 million profit that Elliott and his mates allegedly made from an Elders Eurobond deal that issued to Elliott and his cronies and then snapped up at a much higher price by BHP on advice from one Graeme Samuel.)

Some people appear to have admiration for John Elliott because of his anti-AFL stance, often to the point of self-parody. Personally, I wonder if this is actually very calculated: this sort of up-yours AFL rhetoric helps someone who is otherwise just a disgraced business figure stay in favor with the “common bloke”.

Cheers, Michael.

ends

If ever there is a bloke who should be thrown out of a Football Club it is John Elliott. He drinks far too much, is destructive, has a miserable business record and makes the club a laughing stock.

The guy has just lost his licence for two years after driving whilst over the limit after a Carlton game at Optus Oval. He has been charged with trading whilst insolvent when a director of failed flour mill company Water Wheel and still has the NCA sniffing around the secret $78 million profit he and his mates made out of the Eurobond deal during the battle for BHP.

Carlton legends such as Swan Mckay and Mike Fitzpatrick have left the club after falling out with the drunk and the new chief executive, Mr JM Gurrieri, walked out just before Christmas.

Few people know that Gurrieri was terminated by Pacific Dunlop in 1999 when he was running the struggling South Pacific Tyres division. The 1999-2000 annual report notes that he got a whopping $1.357 million payout which “includes statutory and other amounts paid on termination”.

It seems Gurrieri might have taken the fall for the Aaron Hamill fiasco, the delay in re-signing the ageless Craig Bradley and Carlton’s recent salary cap fines. Sounds like Big John has passed the buck yet again.

The only thing keeping Big John in the top job at Carlton is the support of a couple of rich mates, especially billionaire packaging tycoon Dick Pratt, who stepped down from the board earlier this year.

It is fair to say that Elliott helped Pratt out during the 1980s in a couple of rather controversial ways that ended up costing Foster’s Brewing shareholders about $50 million. Pratt has then spent much of the 90s helping Elliott out, and this includes supporting his ongoing presidency at Carlton.

Let’s hope the polling is being done by someone looking to knock Big John off. Maybe it is Seven chairman Kerry Stokes, who hates Elliott because he once nicked his chauffeur and car on the way to a function at some governor’s place. He must hate him even more after Carlton sued Seven and the AFL over television rights for games played at Optus Oval. This was eventually settled but it is said that Carlton picked up $800,000 a year for its troubles and the MCG Trust was so impressed that they’ve taken on the same lawyers that Carlton used to argue their ground access deal.

Big John’s supporters point this out as a win for the drunk, along with his smart move of selling Carlton Soccer Club to Peter Jess for $1.6 million two year ago. Jess, the brother of hairy Richmond legend Jimmy Jess, has now dropped $3 million on this deal, which might explain why he and Nick Bidieu are going so hard after Cathy Freeman in the courts.

Lastly, Elliott should be thrown out of Carlton for selling the club’s internet development rights to a company 25 per cent owned by Collingwood President Eddie McGuire. If ever there was a no-no for a Carlton President then surely it is giving your rival at Collingwood 65 per cent of the revenue generated from your website over the next 10 years.

Unfortunately, the Carlton AGM was held in December and no-one put up any form of a contest. Elliott was last re-elected for a three year term in 1999 and therefore will not be up again until 2002.

The only player currently on the board who’ll stand up to him is former player Kevin Hall, so start mobilising your forces now Bazza before a few outsiders start mobilising for a tilt at Big John.

Peter Fray

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