Is there any AFL fan out there who truly believes Carlton is in danger of “being amalgamated with another team or forced interstate” as the club’s finance director Marcus Rose warned in a back page story in the Herald Sun this morning?

I, for one, just don’t buy it. And neither do the majority of AFL fans believe that one of the AFL’s traditional power clubs will be shipped off to another market or forced to merge, regardless of how precarious the club’s present financial state might be.

Even the least cynical among us would concede that Rose’s comments were designed primarily to scare Carlton backers and supporters into parting with their hard-earned ahead of what many pundits predict might be another bleak season on the field for the once mighty Blues.

There is also the obvious suggestion that his dire warnings are a prod for the club’s voting members to endorse current club president Graham Smorgan’s Carlton Unity ticket, which includes Rose, at next week’s hotly contested board election.

Part of the Smorgan ticket’s platform includes an ambitious proposal for a $67 million redevelopment of the club’s spiritual home at Princes Park, which Rose claims will set the Blues on the path to financial security and independence.

While nobody is doubting Rose’s business acumen and detailed knowledge of the extent of the club’s ugly balance sheet (which shows $7.5 million in negative net assets, according to this morning’s article) Carlton has historically shown it is one of the best supported and most financial clubs in the competition.

For all the club’s recent on- and off-field woes, the simple fact is that Carlton is almost certain to return to being one of the AFL’s biggest and most powerful clubs once it can sort itself out on the field – and that doesn’t appear to be too far away.

By virtue of its recent poor results, it has gathered a raft of highly-rated young talent, which, in time, will lift the Blues’ on-field fortunes. This will, in turn, eventually re-awaken the club’s huge latent supporter base, ensuring that Carlton will almost certainly return to being one of the power clubs in the AFL.

So while Carlton’s supporters may have to remain patient for the team’s on-field fortunes to turn around, they can be certain that when this does eventually happen, their club will be a stand alone entity based in Melbourne, regardless of who is filling the board room.

Peter Fray

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