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UpForGrabs

Norm Smith Medallist
Apr 23, 2006
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Never going to happen. Not in a million years.

I wonder if many of the people here remember what Fitzroy's last few years were actually like?

They had no money. They had no players. Every good player they had left the club because Fitzroy had no money to match anything near other clubs offers. Roos, Lynch, Lyon, Pike, Molloy, Osborne just to name a few... all flew the coop.

They had a revolving door of home grounds. Princes Park one year, Whitten Oval the next.

They had pathetic attendances and no members. Sure, some will point out that GWS and GC have bad crowds, but they hadn't been in the league for nearly 100 years.

The AFL were propping them up year after year until they said "enough". Merge or fold.

Seems people are overly sentimental about Fitzroy. Yes it's a shame they were forced to merge with Brisbane, but if they didn't then they'd just be an endless charity case for the AFL, or worse yet, they would have folded.
 

Wonaeamirri33

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May 10, 2009
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Obviously you don't remember well enough about us Roys during those years yourself.

When you've got the AFL doing everything they possibly can to whiteant your club out of the competition, you wouldn't look too flash after a decade either.

The war on us started well over a decade prior to 1996. And at the time it started - around 1984, when the AFL forced us out of our home ground at Junction Oval, and then prevented us from setting up at Waverley - we had perfectly strong enough membership compared with other clubs, and strong enough attendances.

Fitzroy's average yearly attendance at home from 1978-1984 was 230,500. Higher, for instance, than average crowds at St Kilda, Footscray, Sydney, and North Melbourne.

Before the AFL forced us out of Junction Oval (where we averaged over 20,000/game for a number of seasons, 16-19,000/game otherwise), which was the year the League's war on us began, our membership was only 2000 less than Essendon's. And higher than Geelong's. Or St Kilda's.

We made the finals in three of our last four years at Junction Oval. And since it was a top 5 then, making finals was substantially more difficult than it is now, of course.

After 1984, we were forced, by the AFL, into a permanent gypsy-like existence, moving from one dire stadium deal to another, to the point where we ended up playing our last 3 seasons in the AFL miles away from our supporters.

A decision forced upon us, again, by the AFL, which not only reduced our attendances enormously, but alienated many of our key players in the process.

And that's just scratching the surface. Here's the full extent of it!

1- Fitzroy was refused permission by the AFL to partially relocate to Canberra, and play seven home games there each season, despite having negotiated a deal which would have netted the Club an extra million dollars a year.

Initially, the club was told that Fitzroy's application to play 4 home games in Canberra (which would have netted the club $350,000 annually guaranteed) would "not be a credible exercise" in the Canberra market and would "not be enough games to be worthwhile."

Ross Oakley later said, in an amazingly offensive public statement, that Fitzroy was their 'worst product" and that the AFL wasn't going to send their 'worst product" up to Canberra. (Very clear that the aim of such a statement was to damage the public reputation of Fitzroy)

Fitzroy then offered to play, as I said, 7 home games in Canberra, which would have netted Fitzroy at least $700,000 a year. In fact, when adding in corporate sponsorship, and ground rights at Bruce Stadium (which would have been upgraded), Fitzroy's projections showed they would have made $1 million extra per season.

Fitzroy's application had the support of the 'AFL for Canberra' organisation, the Canberra Raiders, the Ainslie Football Club and the ACT chief minister, who offered to upgrade Bruce Stadium. However, the AFL point-blank refused to entertain the idea. An AFL commissioner later admitted that the reason why the AFL knocked it back was because they wanted Port Adelaide in the competition, and wanted to keep the pressure on Fitzroy to "merge".

2- Fitzroy was forced to move from the Junction Oval at the end of 1984 through the AFL's ground rationalisation policy, then was knocked back to play out of Waverley, forcing the club to move to Princes Park and Victoria Park at relatively poor deals right throughout the late 1980's and 1990's. (In the final washup, we received no revenue in the end from our time at Princes Park. Not one red cent)

3. In 1986, a Melbourne-based company, Hecron, had agreed to become a partial owner of Fitzroy in return for financing the club to the tune of $2.6 million (which would have enabled the club to pay off all existing debts and afford to pay for new facilities and players).

The League vetoed that deal.

4- Fitzroy was given no financial assistance to play home games in Tasmania (despite pioneering the move), paying all associated expenses out of its own pocket.

We had to pay the whole cost off our own bat, including accommodation. We even ended up having to billet players in supporters' homes. Since that time, AFL support for Hawthorn and St Kilda in Tasmania has been enormous.

5- Fitzroy was refused permission by the AFL to redirect their annual AFL dividend to the banks to service loans.

6- The AFL refused, on at least three different occasions, to guarantee Fitzroy's annual dividend (paid to all clubs as a matter of course), which made it impossible to borrow money or service loans to aid cash flow.

They guaranteed the dividend for all other clubs. Just not us.

7- Over the head of Fitzroy, the AFL guaranteed Carlton 22 matches at Princes Park from 1993-2000 irrespective of whether Fitzroy played there or not. Fitzroy had no bargaining power to negotiate a better ground deal with Carlton. When Carlton came with a poorer deal from 1993, Fitzroy had to either accept a deal in which they would make no ground revenue or consider a move. So we moved....yet again.

8- The AFL regularly leaked sensitive information provided to the League by Fitzroy about Club finances, in order for their media flunkies like Mike Sheahan to write negative stories about Fitzroy, which in turn scared off potential sponsors.

9- The AFL regularly tried to tell potential sponsors who inquired about the possibility of sponsoring Fitzroy that they "shouldn't bother, because Fitzroy would not be in the competition for much longer." (That information comes straight from a Fitzroy director at the time)

10- The AFL brought in a new rule regarding the salary cap, widely known as the "Fitzroy rule", demanding that all clubs pay a certain minimum percentage of the cap, or have punitive measures taken against them by the League. It was an open secret amongst all club administrations that this "rule" was imposed to make life more difficult for Fitzroy.

11- the AFL advised player manager Damien Smith on how best the Bears could secure Alistair Lynch from Fitzroy and stay under the salary cap. Lynch's leaving triggered a player exodus, as he was largely regarded as one of Fitzroy's two best players. In hindsight, that was the point that Fitzroy went downhill sharply.

(Also, the AFL played a role in helping Collingwood to steal Gary Pert, helping Sydney to nick Roos, Osborne and Kappler, helping Richmond to take Dundas, Broderick and Gale from us, and helping North Melbourne to get Blakey away from us too, as I said before)

12- The AFL threatened to sue Fitzroy for $250,000 that had been paid to Fitzroy by CUB as part of a club sponsorship, which included selling CUB's product in the Fitzroy Club Hotel. CUB was the AFL's sponsor and the AFL thought they should have received the money instead of Fitzroy. This was despite the fact that CUB had been a minor sponsor of Fitzroy for over ten years previously.

The AFL even threatened to reduce the dividend to other clubs by the amount Fitzroy received, in an underhanded scheme to get other clubs to pressure us. This was another reason the Lions were forced to make a deal to play at the Western Oval, which in turn alienated some supporters and players. That deal included Footscray loaning Fitzroy the $250,000 demanded by the AFL - for a loan which, mind you, wasn't even due until the following year.

Alistair Lynch later said that Fitzroy's forced move to the Western Oval was the major reason why he decided to leave Fitzroy and sign with the Bears. Broderick, Gale, Elliott and Dundas followed Lynch shortly after. Robert Shaw, the Fitzroy coach at the time, lamented that he'd just lost his next three club captains.

13- From 1993 the AFL issued a number of solvency notices where the club had to satisfy AFL criteria that they could meet their financial debts for the next 12 months or their AFL licence would be withdrawn.

Guess who was the only club to get a solvency notice. That's right, Fitzroy.

We were issued notices under this AFL solvency rule, which meant that if the AFL commission considered a club MAY not have been able to pay it's debts, and the said club could not prove to the AFL's satisfaction that it was able to meet financial commitments for the next twelve months, their AFL licence could be removed.

Fitzroy received several solvency notices from the AFL, despite many of the Victorian clubs having higher debts. Obviously, different standards were applied to us. You can guess why.

14- The AFL objected to a campaign where Fitzroy made 10c from every can of Solo drink sold, because Paul Roos' jumper in the advertising campaign had an AFL logo on it. The AFL was sponsored by Coca Cola.

15- The AFL objected to a Fitzroy sponsorship deal with Schweppes because they were sponsored by Coca Cola. Fitzroy managed to raise $110,000 from this sponsorship before it was rendered untenable by AFL interference.

16- The AFL objected to a Fitzroy sponsorship deal with Pay TV provider Galaxy, supposedly because it might clash with their Channel 7 deal.

17- Fitzroy was refused by the AFL to allow businessman Bernie Ahern to loan money to help the Lions. The AFL could have helped Fitzroy at no risk to themselves or the other clubs in the competition, but didn't want to.

18- The AFL refused to release a debenture charge over the Fitzroy Club Hotel for $250,000 even though Fitzroy had paid it back....until legal action by Fitzroy was threatened. The AFL backed down when that occurred..

19- The AFL repeatedly requested that Fitzroy directors call a meeting of Fitzroy members and shareholders to change the articles of association to "merge", without members and shareholders' agreement/consent.

20- The AFL refused in April 1996 to pay out a dividend in advance to keep Fitzroy in the competition, despite a Fitzroy promise to "merge" at the end of the year.

21- The AFL "proposed" several times, at the end of 1995, that Fitzroy hand in its licence and be run by an AFL-run company with a new licence called Fitzroy Lions Pty.Ltd. and if a "merge" was not affected by the end of 1996, would be liquidated. And we were supposed to do this in return for "assistance packages" to keep the club going. That way Fitzroy's creditors wouldn't get paid.

22- the AFL in early 1996 refused a two-week advancement of $100,000 from a $1.1 million regular AFL dividend to the club to help with cash flow.

23- Fitzroy's auditors KPMG were even raided by the Australian Securities Commission under a warrant to investigate Fitzroy for 'suspect trading while insolvent' for 1993 and 1996. The ASC claimed they were acting on information passed to them.

The AFL were the only organisation who had full access to Fitzroy's finances. So the dirt sheet passed to the ASC could only have come from the AFL.

24. Even at the end, the AFL gave Fitzroy and North Melbourne until July 5th 1996 to complete a deal to combine the clubs' AFL operations, only to give the go-ahead to a forced Brisbane-Fitzroy scenario on July 4th.

25. During negotations with North Melbourne, the AFL were telling North that if they held out, they wouldn't have to pay Fitzroy creditors at all and would receive all of the financial package for completion of this deal themselves, forcing Nauru and other creditors to take their own actions to try to recover anything owed to them.

This was despite the fact that the Fitzroy directors had already done a deal to settle with Nauru out of that financial package. However, North refused to authorise Fitzroy to pay any more than $550,000, as a result of advice given to them by the AFL.

26. When Ian Collins received a fax that the deal with Brisbane was done, he reportedly raised his hands and said "We finally got rid of them."
As far as money and attendances go, the AFL could reinstate the Roys and restore us to the robust health we were in back in 1984, for a tiny fraction of the money being pumped into G€ and GW$. And be assured of decent attendances.

Junction Oval was for us what Kardinia Park is for Geelong. And our crowds were certainly respectable enough there before the VFL/AFL made us move at the end of 1984, and prevented us from establishing ourselves at Waverley after that - the start of the anti-Fitzroy whiteanting.

Moreover, if we'd not been prevented by the AFL from completing that deal we had signed, sealed and delivered in Canberra back in '95, the AFL would now have a strong and enduring base in the ACT, comparable to or better than anything Hawthorn have achieved in Tasmania.

Or if they'd given us even the slightest bit of help when we pioneered a move into Tasmania, back in the early 90s, we would have achieved what Hawthorn have now, much earlier. We had at least as much support already in Hobart at that time, as Hawthorn have been able to build up in Northern Tasmania.

But the AFL's forcing us out of Junction Oval, vetoing our Canberra deal, and stymieing our move into Tasmania, was all part of the same agenda, to undermine us at every turn, and belt us around from pillar to post until we didn't have the resources to fight them any longer.

If we'd had things as heavily slanted in our favour as can be said for the GW$ and Gold €oa$t franchises right now, our attendances, and membership, would have been a Christ of a lot higher than the current GW$ and G€ numbers, that's for sure.

But we didn't need that sort of help. All we needed was for Oakley, Samuel, Collins et al not to be doing us over constantly.
 

Roylion

Moderator
Oct 17, 2000
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They had no money. They had no players. Every good player they had left the club because Fitzroy had no money to match anything near other clubs offers. Roos, Lynch, Lyon, Pike, Molloy, Osborne just to name a few... all flew the coop.
All? No they didn't. Pike, Primus, Molloy, Paxman and Chris Johnson were with the club until the club's removal from the AFL.

They had a revolving door of home grounds. Princes Park one year, Whitten Oval the next.
Junction Oval 1969-1984
Victoria Park 1985
Princes Park 1986-1993
Whitten Oval 1994-1996

After being forced to leave Junction Oval through the AFL's ground rationalisation policy, the Roys were continually on the lookout for a better ground deal. After being screwed by Carlton for some years they finally negotiated a far better financial deal at the Whitten Oval.

The AFL were propping them up year after year until they said "enough". Merge or fold.
Err no. Incorrect on two counts.

1) The AFL did not prop Fitzroy up at any stage by gifting them money. Fitzroy did not receive one cent extra than what any other club received through normal distributions. The AFL did lend Fitzroy money, but it was strictly a loan and had to be paid back. In fact the loan by the AFL was paid back. In full. After the AFL threatened to sue Fitzroy for the money of course.
2) The AFL did not tell Fitzroy to merge or fold. The Fitzroy board initiated merger discussions with another Melbourne based club off their own bat. In 1994 it was with Melbourne and 1996 with North Melbourne. They also looked at relocation For different reasons all failed. In all cases the AFL manipulated the situation to achieve their desired merger with the Bears. (which was AFL policy since at least the start of 1994).

Seems people are overly sentimental about Fitzroy. Yes it's a shame they were forced to merge with Brisbane, but if they didn't then they'd just be an endless charity case for the AFL, or worse yet, they would have folded.
Depends what you mean by 'merger' and 'fold'. If you mean 'fold' in terms of exiting the competition...yes. If you mean 'fold' as in liquidation of the club then no. Fitzroy was never liquidated...as many now appear to be understanding, they still exist in their own right.
 

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Wonaeamirri33

Lovable Whore With A Heart Of Gold
May 10, 2009
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It's very clear to anyone who looks at this objectively that the AFL under Oakley, Samuel and co had decided, back around the end of '84, that they didn't want us Roys in the comp. Unambiguously so.

Still, at least things have been pretty good for us since we've been back on the field again - we've doubled our membership as far as I'm aware (around three & a half thousand now I think), and we're well on our way up the Aussie Rules pyramid in Victoria, having been promoted once already and chasing down a second promotion rapidly.

Moreover, to expand further on what Roylion stated there, the Brisbane Bears took over our AFL operations in 1996, as part of an overall agreement signed by both clubs that year, involving various obligations to be met by Brisbane. That's all.

The Fitzroy Football Club has never and will never be part of the Brisbane Lions. We are our own club in our own right and always have been.


www.fitzroyfc.com.au

 

G-Mo77

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Oct 5, 2004
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26. When Ian Collins received a fax that the deal with Brisbane was done, he reportedly raised his hands and said "We finally got rid of them."
I'll put my hands in the air and yell ""We finally got rid of him" when he turns his toes up. I'll even crack open a few drinks to celebrate the occasion.
 

Kwality

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Outlines the constant refusal of footy administrators to make hard decisions in the best interests of the game.

Only 2 hard decisions to date:
1.the VFL sending South Melbourne to Sydney
2. the Fitzroy/Brisbane stitch up by the AFL.

Today, there are too many teams in Melbourne.
 

Roylion

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Oct 17, 2000
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Cheers for the corrections and the insight.

Still, your team will never come back.
No Fitzroy will never be back in the AFL.

However the club's current mission statement is to return to the top echelon of Victorian football. As opposed to "Australian"

Whether that is the VFA/VFL or some other future top level Victorian competition is yet to be determined. The club is focused on reaching Premier A in the VAFA at the moment. And with a bit of luck and a good deal of effort both on and off the field we might be in Premier B next season.

Membership is growing, lights have just been installed at the Brunswick Street Oval for the first time ever and there are whispers of other developments occurring in the future, that will benefit the football club.
 

Roylion

Moderator
Oct 17, 2000
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Outlines the constant refusal of footy administrators to make hard decisions in the best interests of the game.

2. the Fitzroy/Brisbane stitch up by the AFL.
That wasn't a decision solely by the AFL. The Fitzroy board had already determined to merge. Their preference was with a Melbourne based club. All the AFL (or more accurately the clubs) did was determine along with the administrator Michael Brennan that the merger would be with the Bears.

A merger was always going to happen.

Today, there are too many teams in Melbourne.
No there isn't.
 

Kwality

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When Victoria dominates the administration of ther game yet can not produce enough quality footballers to meet the needs of clubs from Victoria, it begs the question why there are so many teams from Victoria - leaders are that, they shouldnt need subsidies from the nominally weaker States.
Perennial funding subsidies for clubs that have been around for a 100 years are a cause for concern, anything wrong with the business model?

Given it has taken cricket 100 years to recognise the weakness of a business model controlled by 3 States, I dont see the AFL changing, but thats a different question, its only the 100 years that is the constant.
 

Rob

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No Fitzroy will never be back in the AFL.

However the club's current mission statement is to return to the top echelon of Victorian football. As opposed to "Australian"

Whether that is the VFA/VFL or some other future top level Victorian competition is yet to be determined. The club is focused on reaching Premier A in the VAFA at the moment. And with a bit of luck and a good deal of effort both on and off the field we might be in Premier B next season.

Membership is growing, lights have just been installed at the Brunswick Street Oval for the first time ever and there are whispers of other developments occurring in the future, that will benefit the football club.
It would be great to see Fitzroy in the VFL, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be there. Whilst they had a tiny supporter base by AFL standards, they could feasibly get 3,000 a game in the VFL, easily making them the best supported VFL club and one of the best supported state league clubs in the country. I certainly wish them the best in getting there.
 

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Silent Alarm

sack Lyon
Jul 9, 2010
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Not to me.
You won't be around in a hundred years. Nor will I. This notion of Victorian superiority will be eradicated in fifty years, when nobody can genuinely remember their club as a suburban club. Sad but true.

I sympathise with all fans of the Fitzroy Football Club. As sports fans, we all know the pains and joys that fandom brings. And we realise that it's more than a Saturday arvo thing... it's something more. Not having your club in the AFL is tough and unfortunate. I wish you were still a club in the AFL.

However – Victorian fans should remember that the AFL killed more than Fitzroy, suburban grounds, and rawness. They killed state footy in South and Western Australian. Without the advent of the West Coast Eagles, the WAFL would not have disintegrated to a second rate reserves competition. Despite what the AFL commission tells everyone, the VFL was not the only footy league around: the WAFL and SANFL offered some of Australia's greatest sides, players, memories, and matches. You can never dispute some of the champions who only graced Perth and Adelaide were amongst Australia's best. The AFL killed that off as well. We'll never have another Stephen Michael to call 'the WAFLs own'.

But is that a bad thing?

What if Pav was just for the South Australians? What if the Eagles never had Chris Judd? The game is national and it's great. It was inevitable: East Perth and Port Adelaide putting in VFL applications merely fast-tracked the inevitability of a national competition for a national game.
 

stmookeyj

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There are a number of other sporting organisations that are in more of a crisis than the AFL. But I will say that I'd be more worried about Gold Coast than Greater Western Sydney (although the AFL will refuse to let them die, they have the cash at this stage) given the continued fail rate of clubs on the Coast. The Basketball team will be included in the draw for next season, but questions still remain over their viability. The RL team could only get 13K themselves for a match with North Queensland on Friday Night and struggle to half fill their 25K capacity ground (although their decent form may change that), plus their finances have continually come under scrutiny (even though that seems to have died down in recent weeks).
 

General Giant

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Lets just remember, in a city where the major code (League), most of the clubs average in the 12 to 15 thousand (except a couple of "big" teams making 18k), the mighty Giants who werent expected to win a game are avg about 12k. Not bad for a start up club for a code supposedly no one cares about. We will get bigger. As for Fitzroy, well they are kind of like Newton for us leagues. We all wish they didnt get booted etc but have well and truelly moved on (except for those supporters who followed the club, which is fair and completely understandable.)
 

General Giant

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Check the name of the league from 1897 to 1989 and then get back to us.
And theres the rub, just like league, the national comp developed from the biggest state league at the time. BUT once the competition went national and a "new" vic state league started then it was kind of hoped by the big bosses that the smaller clubs would fall into the state league and allow the national comp to grow equally and by the numbers across the country. Do I agree with this?? No. My club in league (Balmain) was a club that was forced into a merger for the good of the league game and it hurt, but I still have them in the state league. Do I think they should not attempt expantion with the Giants?? Hell no.. I finally have a team in the national comp of our national game. Im over the moon. But i will never bag out clubs that have gone by the sidelines in the history of the game. Each club has given something to make this comp what it is today.
 

Moody Blue

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May 21, 2012
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Bring back University. They were on the cusp of becoming a VFL instituion until they were forced out because of the Great war. Fitzroy? Get the Greens to legislate to have them back in the competition. They can be the first carbon neutral footy club and they can utilise the Carbon tax to fund them.That will keep the inner city yuppies happy.
 

Slattery_20

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Never going to happen. Not in a million years.

I wonder if many of the people here remember what Fitzroy's last few years were actually like?

They had no money. They had no players. Every good player they had left the club because Fitzroy had no money to match anything near other clubs offers. Roos, Lynch, Lyon, Pike, Molloy, Osborne just to name a few... all flew the coop.

They had a revolving door of home grounds. Princes Park one year, Whitten Oval the next.

They had pathetic attendances and no members. Sure, some will point out that GWS and GC have bad crowds, but they hadn't been in the league for nearly 100 years.

The AFL were propping them up year after year until they said "enough". Merge or fold.

Seems people are overly sentimental about Fitzroy. Yes it's a shame they were forced to merge with Brisbane, but if they didn't then they'd just be an endless charity case for the AFL, or worse yet, they would have folded.
They wanted to train on Domeney reserve, Park Orchards at one point.
 

Wonaeamirri33

Lovable Whore With A Heart Of Gold
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Without huge loans from the AFL, Carlton would have become insolvent quite some time ago.

If the AFL had been waging war against Carlton the way they did against Fitzroy, it wouldn't have taken 12 years to force Carlton out of the comp - they would've been done and dusted within a few years under those circumstances I reckon.

As for the stuff about "inner city yuppies" - seriously? Where did you think the Carlton Football Club was located? :eek:

Aside from the fact that there is no actual "carbon tax", there is a licence fee being paid by 500 polluting companies. And the only political leader who's on the record as wanting a real carbon tax is Tony Abbott himself.


 

The_Reaper

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Without huge loans from the AFL, Carlton would have become insolvent quite some time ago.

If the AFL had been waging war against Carlton the way they did against Fitzroy, it wouldn't have taken 12 years to force Carlton out of the comp - they would've been done and dusted within a few years under those circumstances I reckon.

As for the stuff about "inner city yuppies" - seriously? Where did you think the Carlton Football Club was located? :eek:

Aside from the fact that there is no actual "carbon tax", there is a licence fee being paid by 500 polluting companies. And the only political leader who's on the record as wanting a real carbon tax is Tony Abbott himself.


Isn't Carlton for people born with a silver spoon, as opposed to yuppies?
 

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