Pratt stands aside as Carlton president - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Pratt stands aside as Carlton president

20/06/2008 06:42:56 PM Comments (0)

If Richard Pratt's tenure as Carlton president ends with the controversy of criminal charges, it will still rank as a term well served for the AFL club.

In his 16 months at the helm, Pratt orchestrated such a turnaround that the Blues are back in the black, in the top eight and poised to show some swagger once again.

Even on Friday, when Carlton announced Pratt had stepped aside to fight the charges laid against him by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission - which could result in jail time - the Blues stressed this "hiccup" would not derail the club's renaissance.

The business would go on, chief executive Greg Swann said, while Stephen Kernahan - now the interim acting president - insisted Carlton's major priority was beating old foe Essendon on Sunday.

When Pratt was voted president in February 2007, Carlton were a basket case on- and off-field, having finished last the previous season and being riddled with debt.

Pratt immediately proved his business acumen for getting things done.

He poached the highly-regarded Swann from under the nose of Carlton's rival, Collingwood, about a month after his own appointment.

He made good on his promise to "put in a dollar or two" by raising $2 million through a fundraiser at his exclusive property Raheen.

And he secured a steady flow of revenue through sponsors, which helped Carlton record a profit of $3 million in 2007.

According to reports, he also established a succession plan for the club's long-term future by having banking chief Ahmed Fahour - credited for turning around NAB's fortunes - join the board.

Fahour looms as a logical successor depending on how Pratt's legal battle unfolds.

But ask the average Carlton fan and Pratt will be forever remembered as the president who got Chris Judd to Princes Park after he left West Coast.

Swann played spearhead, but Pratt hosted the famed lunch at Raheen, asked Eagles coach John Worsfold (a former Carlton assistant coach) for his blessing and warmed Judd through an offer to serve as an environment ambassador with Visy.

The billionaire got his man and the Blues beat the Magpies and Bombers again.

Judd's recruitment, the appointment of Brett Ratten as a young, enthusiastic and impressive coach and the drafting of young gun Matthew Kreuzer spurred new optimism into Carlton after six dark seasons.

The Blues are now in the eight and eyeing off the finals, have a record membership and supporters are rekindling memories of the glory days.

Pratt was last year fined $36 million over his role as Visy chairman, but still got things done.

While he is just shaping up for this latest legal battle, his work helped Carlton win their fight.

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