On Friday November 22, 2002, the AFL announced that the Carlton Football Club had been found guilty of ‘deliberate, elaborate and sophisticated’ breaches of the Salary Cap, a key equalisation policy of the national code. A series of fines and draft restrictions were imposed on the Club, including but not limited to the loss of the first 2 picks in the 2002 National Draft which had been viewed by suffering Carlton fans as some form of silver lining to our first ever Wooden Spoon. Understandably, the day would come to be known by some Carlton fans as ‘Black Friday’.

But first, a little history. Excluding 'administration' type penalties which seem to have been incurred by all Clubs, a number of AFL Clubs, including Carlton, had been caught breaking the Salary Cap in seasons prior to 2002. As a result, Carlton, Fremantle and Melbourne each entered Season 2002 with suspended penalties hanging over their heads from past indiscretions. A summary of the Clubs and their respective penalties, in both draft picks and cash penalties, is found below:

Years of PenaltyYear DeterminedClubDraft PenaltiesFines
19981998CarltonDisqualified from the 1999 PSD$43,820
1992; 1994 - 19961999Essendon1999 National Draft: 1st and 2nd Round Picks $276,274
1993 - 19981999Melbourne1999 National Draft: 1st Round Pick; 2000 National Draft: 2nd and 3rd Round Picks$350,000
N/AN/ASuspended for 5 years:National Draft: 1st Round Pick$250,000
19981998West Coast1998 National Draft: 3rd Round Pick$5,307
1998 - 19992000CarltonDisqualified from the 2001 PSD$115,153
N/AN/ASuspended until 2003:National Draft: 2nd and 3rd Round Picks$57,576
20012001Fremantle2002 National Draft: 3rd Round Pick$54,415
N/AN/ASuspended:National Draft: 1st and 2nd Round PicksN/A

NB - Carlton's 1999 Penalty is listed as being due to 'incorrect estimates relating to incentive payments'.

Melbourne, in particular, entered the year with substantial suspended penalties relating to cap breaches throughout the 1990’s. Carlton, on the other hand, although penalised twice in the same period, entered Season 2002 with a small carry-forward fine of $57,576 and the burden of potentially losing our 2nd and 3rd Round draft picks should we breach the rules again prior to Season 2003.

History will show that this is indeed what was uncovered. The AFL investigated contracts and payments to 4 players; Stephen O'Reilly, Stephen Silvagni, Craig Bradley and Fraser Brown, and although published details are not entirely clear as to what was found, the AFL considered charges of rorting the cap as proved. As per the 2002 AFL Annual Report, the Commission ruled that 'the nature of one breach revealed a deliberate and complex scheme designed and implemented to hide payments and deceive the AFL via the use of trusts, confidentiality agreements and payments to third parties'. As a result, and with our 2 previous penalties in mind, the AFL announced earth-shattering and ground-breaking penalties against the Blues:

Type of PenaltyDraft PenaltiesFines
New Penalty 2002 National Draft: First 2 Picks (#1 and #2)$872,424
New Penalty2003 National Draft: 1st and 2nd Round PicksN/A
New PenaltyDisqualified from 2003 Pre-Season DraftN/A
Activation of Suspended PenaltyNational Draft: 2nd and 3rd Round (Effective 2002 Year)$57,576

In total, the Blues were penalised $930,000, 6 early National Draft selections and disqualified from the-then upcoming Pre-Season Draft. Although most of the penalty could be viewed as a 'new' penalty relating to the recent charges, 2 of the 6 lost early picks indeed related to prior breaches of the salary cap rules. There was to be no part-suspension of this penalty; a mechanism that the AFL had used up until this point in time.

Effectively, the Blues were wiped from the early rounds of the 2002 National Draft. To this day Carlton fans, and indeed football fans in general, debate the severity of the penalties but one thing is for sure - the timing of the penalties when considered against Carlton's first wooden spoon performance ensures that they were felt hard by the Club.

Overall, 4 selections in the 2002 National Draft were lost to the Blues including our Priority Pick for winning less than 5 1/2 games in 2002. Our first selection would come in at Pick #45. Further, Carlton were banned from the 2003 Pre Season Draft, although in the ensuing drama from Black Friday it was clear that Carlton would not have been able to participate in any case. Furthermore, our first and second round Picks for the 2003 National Draft were also lost. Interestingly, Carlton would earn a Priority Pick in Season 2003 but this was able to be retained; logically it would have been difficult to remove a selection we had not yet 'earned'.

The lost selections benefitted the following Clubs in the following ways:

Relevant DraftPick LostEffective PickResultPlayer Taken
2002 National Draft11Pick taken by St Kilda insteadBrendon Goddard
2002 National Draft22Pick taken by the Kangaroos insteadDaniel Wells
2002 National Draft3129 (2 picks cancelled - #1, #2)Earned through trade with Port Adelaide, taken by CollingwoodLuke Shackleton
2002 National Draft3431 (3 picks cancelled - #1, #2 and #31 )Pick taken by the KangaroosJoel Perry
2003 Pre Season DraftN/AN/ANot able to participate at any rateN/A
2003 National Draft55Pick taken by MelbourneBrock McLean
2003 National Draft2120 (1 pick cancelled - #5)Traded; Pick taken by the EaglesSam Butler

In terms of the 2002 National Draft, Carlton's first selection despite coming last in that season was Kade Simpson with Pick 45. Our first two selections (#1 and #2) were ultimately taken by St Kilda and the 'Roos to pick up Goddard and Wells; our third, a swap of second round picks associated with the Port trade for Barnaby French was also lost, plus our last pick #34 effectively taken by the 'Roos.

In terms of the 2003 National Draft, the Blues would retain our Priority Pick in Pick #2 which would nab young gun Andrew Walker. But the loss of our first round selection would ultimately deliver Brock McLean to Melbourne. Our third round selection, practically our next after Walker, was traded to Collingwood for Heath Scotland as the Blues started the slow rebuild after 2 years on the bottom.

This article is not intended to take any view whatsoever on the penalties; this was Carlton's third proven breach of the rules and the AFL chose to act on our continued breaches. The article, is, however, intended to provide some background and facts on one of the most pivotal events in Carlton's first decade in the 21st century; an event likely to impact on team performance for some years to come.

Below is the actual announcement made by the AFL to announce the charges:

Statement by AFL chief executive Wayne Jackson
1:24:04 AM Sat 23 November, 2002
Wayne Jackson
Australian Football League

As you know, the AFL Commission has met this evening to consider four charges laid by the AFL investigations manager against the Carlton Football Club for breaches of the total player payments provisions.

The Commission has considered all the information presented by the AFL investigations manager.

The charges involved payments made to four players for services provided during the 2000 and 2001 seasons.

The evidence presented tonight proved to the Commission beyond a doubt that the charges are correct in the case of three players and, in fact, the Carlton Football Club pleaded guilty to three of the charges. The sanctions apply to the three charges to which Carlton pleaded guilty.

The charge against a fourth player has been adjourned and is the subject of further investigation by the AFL Investigator.

The Commission has made a decision about sanctions but before I announce that detail, I wanted to outline a number of issues which were considered in making this decision.

Firstly, the nature of one of the breaches revealed a complex and deliberate scheme designed and implemented to hide payments and deceive the AFL.

This involved the use of trusts, confidentiality agreements and payments to third parties. The paper trail was carefully followed by our investigations team.

Secondly, during the investigation period, former board members of the Carlton Football Club refused to cooperate. This of course has made the task more difficult and time consuming.

Finally, as the chairman has pointed out, this is the third breach by Carlton Football Club since 1998 and this latest breach occurred while Carlton was under a suspended sentence of a penalty for a previous incident. That suspended sentence has been triggered by events this evening.

In light of these issues, the Commission has decided on the following sanctions:

  • The loss of the priority selection (selection number one) in the 2002 national draft to be held on Sunday, November 24, 2002.

  • The loss of selection number 2, the first selection in round one of the 2002 national draft.

  • The loss of selection number 31 in round 2 of the 2002 national draft.

  • The loss of selection number 34 in round 3 of the 2002 national draft.

(Note: The loss of selection number 31 in round 2 and selection number 34 in round 3 of the 2002 national draft are triggered by the suspended sentence imposed on the Carlton Football Club by the AFL Commission for total player payment breaches in 1998 and determined by the AFL Commission in October, 2000).

  • Exclusion from round one of the 2002 pre-season draft to be held on Tuesday, December 17, 2002.

  • The loss of the right to participate in round 1 and round 2 of the 2003 national draft.

  • Should the Carlton Football Club qualify for the special assistance rule, the club will retain its priority selection in the 2003 national draft.

  • The Carlton F.C. will be entitled to participate in the 2003 national draft from round 3.


  • A financial sanction of $930,000 which includes a financial sanction of $57,576 being the amount suspended by the AFL Commission as part of its decision in October, 2000, relating to a breach of the salary cap by Carlton during 1998.

  • The $57,576 is payable by December 31, 2002.

  • The balance of the financial sanction is payable by December 31, 2003.


1. Carlton will be entitled to participate in the 2002 national draft on Sunday, November 24, from round 4, selection number 45.

2. Carlton will be entitled to participate in the 2003 pre-season draft.

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