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NorthPort's picture
Carlton cut ties with Preston

CARLTON has been forced to end its alignment with its VFL affiliate the Northern Blues as the ongoing financial implications of the League's COVID-19 shutdown continues to wreak havoc.

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The club has also parted ways with VFL coach Josh Fraser as a result of the situation, with the former Collingwood and Gold Coast ruckman holding a dual role with the club for the last five years.

Josh Fraser
I am incredibly fortunate to have been involved with the @CarltonFC and @NBluesFC for the last 5 years. These are unforeseen circumstances and there will be people doing it tougher than I am. Hopefully everyone is keeping themselves and loved ones safe. #AntsSpirit

3:32 PM - Mar 26, 2020
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The Blues, who were understood to be distraught at being forced into making the decision to cut ties with Northern, had been placing a growing emphasis on the strength of their VFL affiliate in recent years.

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The club had ensured an increased focus on improving recruitment strategies, which had seen it sign former AFL players such as Alex Johnson, Jono O'Rourke, Josh Hill, Kieran Collins, Jordan Cunico and Lukas Webb in recent years.

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However, an AFL directive for clubs to cut soft cap expenditure by $3 million in the next year as a result of the COVID-19 crisis meant Carlton was forced to reassess whether it could sustain the costs involved within its alignment with the Northern Blues.


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The club now appears likely to move to a standalone VFL side when state-leagues resume competition, which is not expected until May 31 at the earliest.

Carlton officially aligned with the then-named Northern Bullants in 2003, with is current senior coach David Teague beginning his coaching journey with a three-year spell at the helm of the VFL side between 2008 and 2010.

The decision means that the Northern Blues, which was first formed as the Preston Football Club, will now essentially cease to exist after 138 years in competition.


Really feel for the old stalwarts like Bullants,138 years of history gone,question is who's next?

NorthPort's picture

Far too much about Carlton in this article on the Northern Blues website:


Nothern Blues - Web Header

THE Carlton Football Club and the Northern Blues have today been forced to make the incredibly difficult decision to dissolve their partnership.

The Covid-19 situation has decimated the AFL industry, with this sad reality meaning that the alignment between the two clubs is no longer financially viable in its current format.

The impact of these circumstances has meant that the Carlton Football Club is no longer in a position whereby it could financially support the operations of the Northern Blues.

Carlton is in the process of providing the Northern Blues’ Directors with all the support necessary to assist in finalising the operations of their club and determining the very best way to manage the individual situations of all Northern Blues staff, players and key stakeholders.

The partnership between the two clubs extended back to 2002, when the Northern Bullants joined the Carlton Football Club as its VFL affiliate.

From that point on the alignment proved to be a proud development pathway for Navy Blue talent on and off the field. This included Carlton’s current Senior Coach David Teague, who began his coaching career with the Bullants, taking them to two successive VFL Grand Final appearances in 2009 and 2010.

In 2011, the two football clubs moved even closer, with members of the Northern Bullants voting at a Special General Meeting to change their name to the Northern Blues.

Over nearly two decades Carlton and Northern formed an endearing connection that was shared between players, staff and supporters.

Carlton CEO Cain Liddle said that today’s announcement was made with a heavy heart.

“It is hard to put into words how difficult a decision this has been,” Liddle said.

“Northern have been part of the Carlton family for the last 19 years. While being an incredibly proud club in their own right, they have also provided a terrific pathway for our players and coaches to thrive in their development.

“Preston City Oval was a second home on the weekends for many Carlton players, staff and supporters. This is an extremely sad day for so many involved but Northern will always have a special place in the history of the Carlton Football Club.

“We are currently working with Northern Blues players to ensure they have access to ongoing support and resources. Should the VFL season go ahead, Carlton will be offered the opportunity to enter a team of our own and we would obviously be leaning heavily on existing Northern Blues players to complement our listed players.”

Northern Blues president Stephen Papal expressed his disappointment at the unavoidable outcome.

“To see our football club unable to continue its operations is as difficult as it gets,” Papal said.

“I can say nothing more but express my eternal gratitude to every player, coach, administrator, sponsor, member and supporter that has be part of the Northern Blues Football Club and kept us going year after year.

“Our history extends 138 years and we are proud of each and every one of those seasons. This football club has a rich history and we will do everything possible to ensure it remains in the hearts and minds of our supporters forever.

“Thank you also to the Carlton Football Club for their support over nearly 20 years. The affiliation has been a strong one, full of great memories and life-long friendships. While we are gutted it is unable to continue, we are grateful our football club was able to exist for another two decades as a result of the partnership and we are proud of what we were able to achieve together.”

A football club with as proud and as long a history as any other, the Preston Football Club was established back in 1882 and joined the VFA in 1912.

Its connection with Carlton extends back 80 years, with the Blues’ first Brownlow Medallist Bert Deacon playing for the Bullants as a 17-year-old back in 1940 before returning to captain-coach the Club in 1951 after 106 games for Carlton.

Champion Bullants players included Ray Shaw, Ted Henrys, Harold Martin, Peter Weightman, Laurie Hill, Trevor Durward and Frankie Raso just to name a few, with premiership success enjoyed with back-to-back flags in 1968 and 1969 and once again in 1983 and 1984.

The Carlton Football Club will ensure the history shared between the two clubs over the last 19 years remains


NorthPort's picture

Is the problem that too many on the board are there on behalf of Carlton? Why aren't they fighting for they clubs survival on a standalone basis. 



Northern Blues have confirmed it is over 

who would,have believed this moment 2 weeks ago was the last time Northern Blues played a game


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NorthPort's picture

I just don't get why they just give up... No fundraising effort / crisis money drive? 


vfa's picture

If the vfl do play in 2020 and this is highly unlikely at this stage looks like no Richmond, Footscray and now the old bullants are gone. If the afl do play that is also unlikely the Richmond, Footscray and Carlton players not getting an afl game play at local level which is also a huge doubt. Sad times allround in the footy world. Vafa has a better chance of having some footy played than other leagues. How many old Preston people on the vfl board ? Was there anyone ? There is already a team called Preston bullants in the vafa. Maybe the vfa bullants can join and be part of the vafa Preston bullants amateurs ?? Sandringham, box hill and the old Springvale I would seriously do some planning now otherwise it will be too late. As for gold coast and gws they can forget about massive handouts. Gold coast is a basket case. All sports in the gc over the years have been rabble. Soccer, basketball, rugby league and afl. 


blackrocker's picture

Will St  Parasites do the same to Sandy

vfa's picture

How on earth Carlton severing ties with Preston are going to save them dollars. If they go back to Carlton will pay the full licence fee. The vfl players payments would be low anyway. The staff are employed by Carlton.  Typical carlton trash. Yes agree blackrocker now is the perfect time sandringham can work out a plan before it is too late. Box hill and Springvale you too.


A very sad moment for VFA footy supporters.  The Preston Football Club has long been "dead" but they manfully tried hard to work their way through all the issues they have faced.

Such a proud and successful club that brought a lot of joy to so many people.  It will be really sad to have a competition without their presence.  

vfa's picture

Preston were such a power from the late 70s to the mid 80s. Many great players wore the red and white. Yes very sad indeed.