CEO Cain Liddle has expressed sincere gratitude of behalf of the entire Carlton Football Club to outgoing Northern Blues coach Josh Fraser and General Manager Ben Brennan for their tireless work with the VFL program.

Yesterday, the Carlton Football Club and Northern Blues announced they had made the extremely difficult decision to cease their affiliation.

The significant effect of the COVID-19 situation has meant Carlton are no longer able to provide financial support to Northern, meaning the operations of the club would sadly come to an end.

While the news was devastating, it takes nothing away from the enormous contribution made by Fraser, Brennan and the entire Northern Blues players, coaches and staff.

Fraser took the reins of the Northern Blues at the end of 2015 and worked hand-in-hand on a daily basis with the AFL coaching staff to ensure the development pathway would allow the Club’s emerging talent to flourish.

Brennan joined the Northern Blues at the end of 2018, overseeing the operations of the football club in all aspects, including the retention and signing of VFL talent.

Liddle said both would be sadly missed, following yesterday’s heartbreaking news.

“The most painful aspect of this current situation is that we have been forced to farewell quality people from the Carlton family,” Liddle said.

“Josh is one of the best people you can have the pleasure of meeting in football: he is a terrific coach, loved by all players in our AFL and VFL program and most importantly was a quality person to have at our football club. Both our VFL and our AFL playing groups have taken Josh’s departure extremely hard, which is upsetting but also a testament to the regard in which he was held at Ikon Park.

“Ben has been exceptional in his role as General Manager over the last 18 months. That role at VFL level requires you to juggle multiple responsibilities, all at the same time, which Ben did with class, without fuss and to an elite standard. Having known Ben since he was a teenager, I know first-hand what a great person he is, which makes this all the more harder.

“It was the Northern Blues' ‘one club’ mentality, led by Josh and Ben, which meant our players were welcomed at VFL Captain’s Runs and on game day every week with open arms.

“Josh, Ben and all Northern Blues players, coaches and staff have our full and unwavering support as we help to manage them through what is such a tough time, for not only the football industry, but the entire community.

“I’d like to take the opportunity on behalf of everyone within the football department, to thank Josh and Ben for the commitment they have displayed during their time at the Club. Football clubs are made up of quality people and the characters of these individuals are second to none. We wish them and their families every success in the future.”