Carlton and the 2002 Salary Cap Breach


  • 1994 – Carlton were fined $50,000 after being found guilty of breaching the salary cap by $85,000 in 1993.
  • 1999 – Carlton were fined $43,800 and excluded from the 2000 preseason draft for minor breaches
  • 2001 – Carlton were fined $125,150, forfeited their second and third round picks in the 2001 National Draft, and were excluded from the 2002 pre-season draft after it was found that they had failed to disclose payments totaling $239,900 to captain Craig Bradley and incorrectly lodged an additional services agreement document during the 1998 and 1999 seasons

The Events of 2002

On October 2nd, The Age reported that Stephen Silvagni had been asked to supply the AFL with written financial records for his final years at Carlton, along with Stephen O’Reilly and Fraser Brown. The Age stated as many as 6 players had asked. At this point Silvagni and Brown were both retired and active in the Carlton board elections.

On October 26th, The Age reported that the investigation had taken a dramatic turn after seeing evidence from Stephen O’reilly. The Age said that both O’Reilly and Fraser Brown were offered indemnities in exchange for information about under the table payments.

On November 11th, the AFL formally charged the Carlton football club with breaches of the Salary cap.

On November 13th, the Heraldsun reported that Carlton were scheduled to face the Commission on charges centred on under the table payments to up to 7 players made in 2000, further noting it was the third time in 5 years that Carlton had been charged with salary cap breaches. The Age also reported that the Commission had indicated that Carlton would lose draft picks.

On November 15th, Carlton were charged with additional breaches as The Age reported that two players had voluntarily come forward with information about undisclosed payments. The Heraldsun specifically named Stephen Silvagni and Craig Bradley. The AFL website denied suggestions by The Age that the AFL had already decided to strip Carlton of draft picks.

On November 18th, The Age reported that Silvagni and Bradley were owed $100,000 and had never received the under the table payments promised by Carlton.

On November 20th, The Heraldsun reported that Ian Collins had sent a letter to all Carlton players advising them to come clean advising that failure to do so would result in Carlton refusing to pay and and all outstanding under the table payments.

On November 21st, it was reported that Carlton would tell the AFL that only 4 Directors at the club were aware of the salary cap rorts, naming John Elliot, Wes Lofts, Barry Stones and Kevin Hall.

On November 23rd, the AFL commission fined the Carlton football Club $930,000 including $872,424 for current breaches and a further $57,526 remaining from suspended sentences from breaches in 1999. Payments to four players were specified Craig Bradley, Stephen O’Reilly, Stephen Silvagni and Fraser Brown. In addition, the club was denied its first two selections in the 2002 National draft, as well as their second and third draft picks – their first pick would be at 45. Futher the Blues were penalised the first and second round picks in the 2003 draft, and the 2002 Preseason draft

AFL Commission charman, Ron Evans was quoted as saying

“Carlton’s latest salary cap breaches were a deliberate, elaborate and sophisticated scheme to break the player payment rules. Carlton members and supporters ought to feel betrayed by the actions of their club.”

On December 11th, It was reported that Carlton had voluntarily submitted the information that Matthew Allen had been paid an unreported sum of $75,000 in 2002.


On February 7, 2003 The AFL formally charged Carlton and Matthew Allan with salary cap breaches. The Commission found that in this instance Carlton had made “full and open disclosures”. This investigation was handled by then League Football Operations boss Andrew Demetriou who was also given control over the investigation in Fraser Brown who to this point was reported as not co-operating with the AFL. The League was reportedly considering banning him from AFL events for failing to comply.

On Febuary 22nd, Andrew Demetriou announced that Matthew Allen would be fined and suspended for 5 matches for recieving under the table payments. The Fraser Brown issue was still reporetedly not resolved.

On March 28th, The Age reported that Craig Bradley and Stephen Silvagni were unlikely to ever recieve any of the money promised under the table in 2000. Carlton said they couldnt afford to pay and in any case, the former players had not asked for the money. The Age also reported that former president John Elliot had expressed disasppointment on The Footy Show in the two players for coming forward to the AFL.

The Heraldsun reported that Carlton had also made secret payments to Greg Williams between 1993 and 1995, using a construction company. The payments were allegedly for ground maintenance, but no work was ever done.

On March 29th, The Heraldsun reported that Stephen Oliver was secretly paid $70,000 by the Carlton football club and was revealed during the Salary Cap Amnesty in 1994.

Penalties (Source: Blueseum)

On August 23rd, 2003, The Australian reported that the then AFL CEO, Wayne Jackson defended the penalities handed out to Carlton. Claiming that if Silvagni and Bradley hadnt come forward, and if Ian Collins hadnt co-operated, then the penalties would have been even harder.

“If someone wants to cheat year after year they deserve what they get.This was a club that cheated and rorted over a period of years and they deserved everything they got and arguably plus some more.”

Recent Comments

Stephen Silvagni appeared on Open Mike (July 23rd, 2012) and was questioned in part about the salary cap. When asked directly if the salary cap breach referred to under the table payments Silvagni said –

”I am not too sure that’s right. All I can say is a lot of water has gone underneath the bridge since then. It was a difficult time, not only for the club, but the players themselves. Certainly, we co-operated with what the club wanted us to do.

”All I can say is we co-operated with what the Carlton Football Club wanted us to do and what the AFL wanted us to do.

Silvagni stated on the program that what the papers reported was inaccurate and that he felt that the Club had gone a long way to putting the matter behind them.

On August 12, 2013 Ian Collins told the Sunday Footy Show that he thought the AFL was “bloody minded” about the penalty, and felt that it was rather “draconian”.

“They thought a million dollars was reasonable for a club like Carlton and that taking away their draft picks for the next 2 or 3 years was reasonable as well. In the end, I think it wasnt a balanced decision”

Former AFL CEO Wayne Jackson told The Age on July 25th, 2012 that

”Was I satisfied that the AFL conducted its investigations as properly as it could do? Absolutely. Was I satisfied with the penalty? That’s a decision the commission made. I was one of the commissioners, of course, so I am very, very supportive of that.”

On November 3rd, 2012, former President John Elliot told the Heraldsun that

“We knew we were legal, but Collo (Ian Collins) thought we would get off light if we (admitted it). He wouldn’t take them to the Supreme Court. Then he disclosed a few things about (Craig) Bradley and (Stephen) Silvagni to the AFL.”

Former Carlton president and former AFL General manager Ian Collins told the Heraldsun on August 8, 2013 that

“Historically there have been a number of ‘crimes’ committed by clubs breaching the AFL’s rules in which the penalties seem to far outweigh the breach. On reflection, Carlton would have been better advised taking the matter to court where fines of this magnitude ($930,000 in 2002) are rarely seen.”

On August 24th, 2013, Denis Pagan spoke about the effect of draft penalties on the club in 2002 in an interview with The Age.

”I thought Carlton’s penalty was draconian. It was very personal. The people who committed the crimes walked away scot free. The people who worked there were smashed in the face by a sledgehammer for five years. It probably took 10 years to get it right. I don’t think anyone at the AFL realised the impact it had on people’s lives. They were ready to pick [Daniel] Wells and [Brendon] Goddard; the heart was ripped out of the club.”

In July 2018, former player agent David Allison detailed the extent of his involvement in the cheating saga.

Asked how much money he had received in under-the-table player payments in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Allison told the Herald Sun:

“Across a five-year period – there would be no doubt in my mind it would be three-quarters of a million bucks. It was always cash …. and it wasn’t only me that was paid that type of money. In those days there was a lot of cash money made available – and I know for a fact that it still goes on today – but not to the degree that it did back in those days.”

Allison said the cash payments, usually arriving in brown paper bags, were always made by a wealthy third-party businessman, who he declined to name, and never came directly from the club.

He claimed club sponsors were also involved in complex financial arrangements involving players’ private companies. Although his players always declared the extra payments with the tax office, they were kept secret from the AFL, Allison said. He stressed no laws were broken.

Allison said he had been tipped off about the Carlton investigation well before the story was made public in August 2002.

“The AFL were investigating it before then, believe me,” he said. “It was actually a committee man that told me some inquiries were being made. They contacted me a few times to say that there were a few issues that they had to be careful of and mindful of.”

Pressed on the identity of the bagman behind the salary cap scandal, Allison said: “A very wealthy businessman. I can’t say who, mate.”

He said the cash would be discreetly dropped off at his Parkville office “probably twice a year”.


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