Managing Director and CEO Carl Dilena wrote the following letter to members after stepping down.
This year our club has gone through dramatic change with the reshaping of our football department. While change is often unsettling, it also provides a great opportunity to make a fresh start and drive performance.
I have been working closely with fellow Board members, the management team and our new senior coach, Rhyce Shaw, to implement the necessary changes and develop our football roadmap for the future. Pleasingly, this week we finalised our coaching and football department resourcing structures for the 2020 season, with a number of new additions.
As part of this transition process, in consultation with the Board, I have also been reflecting on my own future and have decided personally that the time is right for change.
Accordingly, I will be stepping down from my roles as director and CEO at the end of the financial year on 31 October, 2019.
While the decision has been a tough one, the club is moving in a new direction and will benefit from new people and fresh ideas. I look forward to assisting our team in finalising the necessary building blocks prior to my departure.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you, our members, for your incredible support over the years.
I joined the Board in January 2008 when the club had just fought off relocation to the Gold Coast and James Brayshaw was forming his new Board. It is safe to say that the first few years were all about survival.
While we made some significant strides as a club, particularly with the construction of our new headquarters at Arden Street in 2009, thanks to the hard work of former CEO Eugene Arocca, our financial position continued to deteriorate. By the end of 2012 we were laden with $8 million of debt and heavily reliant on the goodwill of the AFL for our survival.
The Board’s primary focus and goal with me stepping into the CEO role in February, 2013 was to embark on a financial turnaround. A secure financial base, the ability to pay the full salary cap to attract and retain players, and the ability to provide appropriate football department resources are all absolutely critical if a club is to succeed on-field in the incredibly competitive modern-day AFL landscape.
Through the hard work of many people over the past six years, we managed to make significant progress. We eliminated our legacy debt, can now afford to pay 100% of the player salary cap and have increased our football department resourcing to be on par with other clubs in the competition. It is the first time in our history that we have been able to put ourselves in such a position.
None of this could have been achieved without the amazing work ethic and culture of our staff and the incredible support of our sponsors, coterie groups and members. I would like to thank everyone for their incredible efforts.
In the past year we also embarked on a new stage of our history with the addition of three new teams, further expansion and improvement of our facilities, and the return of games to our spiritual home at Arden St. The addition of our own stand-alone VFL team, our AFLW team and our VFLW team have all provided another great dimension to our club.
While I will naturally depart the club with a tinge of sadness, I also leave feeling comfortable in the knowledge that all of the great people I have worked with have given their all and positioned the club for a bright future.
It’s been a great ride, the particular highlights for me being our finals’ series in 2014 and 2015. I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such a great club. I certainly didn’t create a lasting legacy as a player in the early nineties but I hope I’ve been able to make more of an impact this time around.
Thanks again for your support and I wish our next CEO, our staff, coaches, players, Board, members and supporters every success in the future.