ON THE same day Bluebaggers have broken yet another all-time club membership record, the Carlton Football Club can confirm that it is now officially debt free.

The Board has ratified a management recommendation that will see the Club’s remaining $4 million of historical debt wiped out immediately. The Club has also informed the AFL that it will no longer be a financially assisted club of the competition.

This is the first time the Blues will have been debt free since 1996 and successfully ticks off the first of the 10 key targets that were outlined in the Club’s strategic plan, launched in 2019. 

Fittingly, the historic milestone comes as 67,036 members of the Carlton family have signed on for 2021, surpassing the Club’s membership record for a fourth consecutive year.

This year, Blues members have smashed the record just one week into the AFLW season and with still 45 days until the opening bounce of the 2021 AFL season.

The incredible show of faith by Carlton members has allowed the Club to now find itself in its strongest off-field position in more than two decades.

This now allows the Club a greater level of flexibility and capacity to invest further into its Ikon Park Master Plan redevelopment and alternative revenue streams such as the Carlton College of Sport and Carlton IN Business, that continue to go from strength to strength. Most importantly, it ensures that maximum investment remains in both its AFL and AFLW programs, giving its players, coaches and members the very best opportunity to achieve on-field success. 

Carlton CEO Cain Liddle said the way in which the Blues’ members and the Board, along with the entire club, have worked together to place the Club in the position of off-field strength it now finds itself in, is nothing short of remarkable.

“To clear almost $7 million of debt in just three years is an incredible effort by our Board, made even more incredible when you consider the challenges of 2020. It’s been a total unified club effort, by our board, our players, our staff, our members and our commercial partners and sponsors. A totally united club,” Liddle said.

“We have now surpassed our all-time membership record of 67,035 (set in 2020), to achieve that this early in the season is almost unprecedented.

“We remain well on track to hit 80,000 members in 2021, which represents approximately 50 per cent growth in three years and keeps us on track to hit our ambitious strategic target of 100,000 members by 2023. We just couldn’t be more appreciative of our members who have stuck with us and re-signed for 2021, particularly during what has been an especially challenging period for so many.

“We’ve said multiple times that it has felt as though our members picked us up, put us on their shoulders and carried us forward and today’s announcements confirm that is exactly the case. Every Carlton member should feel a great sense of pride today”.