AFL club Carlton say they are debt-free for the first time in 25 years.
On Monday, the Blues announced they have set a new club membership record and will no longer require financial assistance from the league.
Eradicating debt was one of 10 “key targets” outlined in a strategic plan unveiled by the club in 2019.
“To clear almost $7 million of debt in just three years is an incredible effort by our board, made even more incredible when you consider the challenges of 2020,” Carlton CEO Cain Liddle said.
“It’s been a total unified club effort, by our board, our players, our staff, our members and our commercial partners and sponsors.”
Carlton have 67,036 members signed for 2021, with bold off-season recruiting fuelling supporters’ expectations of a sharp rise towards finals contention during coach David Teague’s second full season at the helm.
The new membership figure has eclipsed the club record set last year – more than six weeks out from the traditional season opener against Richmond.
But the Blues are still aiming higher as part of their strategic plan – called The Carlton Way – which details the club’s vision for the five-year period from 2019 to 2023.
“We remain well on track to hit 80,000 members in 2021, which represents approximately 50 per cent growth in three years and keeps us on track to hit our ambitious strategic target of 100,000 members by 2023,” Liddle said.
Key planks of Carlton’s strategic plan include winning premierships, attracting an average of 50,000 spectators at home games, generating $75 million in annual revenue, completing the Ikon Park redevelopment and becoming “the most influential gender equality program in sport”.