'Lacked respect': AFL great torches 'amateur' former club

Chris Young
·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Former Carlton list manager Stephen Silvagni is pictured during a press conference.
Former Carlton list manager Stephen Silvagni has taken aim at the club where he won two premierships, accusing them of an 'amateur' approach to his departure in 2019. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Carlton legend Stephen Silvagni has labelled his shock axing by the club in December last year as an ‘amateur approach’ in a stunning radio interview in which he accused his former club of ‘lacking respoect’.

Silvagni, a Blues legend who played 312 games for the club and won two premierships in the process, was let go as Carlton’s list manager in 2019, with the club blaming the decision on their concerns over the fact Silvagni’s sons Jack and Ben were both on the list.

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“The difficult decision to not enter into a new contract with Silvagni...centred around the increasing complexity of having two sons on the playing list,” the Blues said in a statement released at the time.

“The situation is not only a conflict for the club’s GM List Management and Strategy, but equally for those who work in and around him in the football department.”

In a riveting interview on SEN on Wednesday morning, Silvagni said he felt mistreated by the club for which he was once a champion.

The former fullback said the shock axing had effectively thrown his sons ‘under the bus’.

“Looking back at the press release, it just put the boys under the bus,” Silvagni said.

“I thought it was amateur, to be honest.

“It really lacked any respect in terms of how you handle people on the way out. That was probably the most hurtful thing.

“Your two biggest assets at a football club are your supporters and your players.

“The way that press release was written up I think put two players under the bus and put more pressure on them than they should have to handle throughout a season.”

Stephen Silvagni airs long list of Carlton grievances

Silvagni’s somewhat unexpected depature from Carlton stunned the football world when it happened, amid rumours there was disagreement over the recruitment of former player Eddie Betts back to the Blues.

While he and Carlton chief executive Cain Liddle agreed Betts’ return would be good for the club, they disagreed on the right price to pay - eventually leading to Liddle going over Silvagni’s head.

“When someone above decides ‘well, you know what I’m going to change those rules’ – and the reason why you get a little bit annoyed and frustrated at times is that when we went into the Carlton Football Club our list wasn’t in a good state and either was our salary cap,” Silvagni said.

Silvagni also said he was unhappy with differences between the reasons given for his departure by club officials behind closed doors, versus what was said in public.

Carlton great Stephen Silvagni is pictured after the 2018 AFL Draft.
Carlton great Stephen Silvagni, who played more than 300 games and won two premierships with the club, has taken aim at Blues executives over his surprise departure in December 2019. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The Blues great said the ‘increasing complexities’ line the Blues gave publicly didn’t match with what he’d been told in private, adding that if the club had simply been upfront about their concerns then he would have accepted them.

“If (Liddle) actually used the words he used to me when he decided not to go on with me, I would’ve been fine with that,” Silvagni said.

“But when you use words that weren’t in that (private meeting) – and I asked him if that’s the reason why you want to not renew my contract that’s fine, but make sure you use those words you’ve used – but he didn’t have the courage or conviction to use those words,”

“Ultimately the words that were spoken to me was that it was untenable that I remained at the football club because my boys were there.”

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