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John Elliott (Wikimedia)
John Elliott

The day after the Blues announced Michael Voss as their new coach, they announced the passing of long-time president John Elliott, just 10 days shy of his 80th birthday. His son Tom, a talk show host on radio station 3AW, confirmed the news, "It is with great sadness that we announce the death of John Dorman Elliott. He died Thursday evening at the Epworth Hospital in Richmond after a short illness. Dad will be greatly missed by his four children Tom, Caroline, Edward, and Alexandra. Their partners Elise, Craig, and Georgia plus grandchildren Henry, Sebastian, India, Ava, Lottie, and Mathilda will remember forever their 'Grandpa Jack'. Others to mourn his passing are his brother Ross, sister-in-law Jenny, former partner Joanne, and second wife Amanda. There are also numerous nieces, nephews, grandchildren." Elliott, who also served as federal president of the Liberal Party, suffered a fall at his home in early September.

Most footy fans know him as the longest-serving president of the Carlton Blues. He was a colorful and bombastic character and angered some with his outlandish statements and behavior. He was also a powerful businessman, acquiring and partnering in numerous companies and accumulating a vast fortune. However, it all began to unravel in the 1990s when some businesses with which he was involved were investigated by the government. He led a private investment firm that accumulated a debt of almost $3 million. Elliott was forced to sell some of his assets and was replaced as CEO of the company. The company then reported a loss of over $1 billion. The business then became Fosters Brewing and Elliott remained on the board until 1992.

The National Crime Authority launched a long investigation into foreign exchange transactions. When this finally came to nothing, Elliott launched an unsuccessful damages action. Elliott moved into rice milling through Water Wheel Holdings, which collapsed in 2000. In 2003, the Victorian Supreme Court ordered him to pay $1.4 million in compensation after finding he'd allowed the company to trade while insolvent. In 2005, Elliott declared himself bankrupt. His mansion was already gone and many of the furnishings had been auctioned off.

Then the AFL discovered he and several members of the Carlton board had been cheating the league's salary cap. In 2002, many called for him to resign his position, but he staunchly refused until the Australian government began its investigations. He was forced to resign, and the club was fined almost a million dollars and stripped of valuable draft selections for several years. Many club supporters blamed him for the boardroom shenanigans that crippled and nearly ruined the club he professed to love. 

Despite his fall from grace, Elliott remained unapologetic. He blamed the government for the NCA investigation and said the judge's decision was "very wrong". He maintained that the salary cap and draft were themselves illegal and the club should have taken the AFL to court.

Elliott said fighting legal cases cost him $11 million. After his bankruptcy was lifted, Elliott dabbled in commodity trading and business consulting, joined the professional speaking circuit, and created his website The John Elliott Report.

Carlton President Luke Sayers acknowledged Elliott's reputation as a powerhouse both on and off the field, " ... he will always be remembered and respected as someone who gave his all to the Navy Blue. Despite the challenges faced by the club throughout some of those tough years, John's passion and love for his club never wavered. We must remember the many achievements during his time at the club. The return of (former player and coach Robert) Walls and (former coach David) Parkin, and the premierships they subsequently won; the recruitment of Kernahan, Bradley, and Williams; the pride in the jumper and the love of Prince Park. John remained a passionate Carlton man, right throughout his life. He never stopped wanting to see the Old Dark Navy Blues succeed."


Article last changed on Friday, September 24, 2021 - 10:43 PM EDT

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