Stephen Silvagni helped build the modern day Carlton Football Club with his bare hands, only to be kicked on his way out the door in a messy break-up last year.
Now the Blues legend has finally had his say in an explosive tell-all interview on Wednesday.
The former champion full back was sensationally sacked by Carlton at the end of 2019 after joining the club from the Giants in 2014 to take up the position of recruitment boss and list manager.
The 53-year-old has now turned a blowtorch on his former club after claiming he and his family were smeared in the press release that followed the club’s decision to sack him.
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Silvagni saved his most scathing criticism for Blues chief executive Cain Liddle — after claiming Liddle went around his back to pursue a deal with former Crows superstar Eddie Betts last year.
Silvagni says Liddle claimed last year Silvagni would have “sabotaged the trade period” if he’d not been put on the outer.
Silvagni said the accusation that he would not have acted professionally at the end of his tenure hurt.
“That probably hurt me the most… when you played for a club for 17 years, you put your body on the line and supported the club all your life, for a person to actually say that you’ll sabotage the trade and draft period,” he said.
Blues recruiter Stephen Silvagni at the 2019 AFL Draft Combine.Source:AAP
“That was probably the most disappointing out of everything that happened.”
He says his eventual sacking came at the end of a long season where he had previously been speaking to Blues president Mark LoGiudice about potentially moving on from the club. In the end the club made the decision for him.
The club’s handling of his sacking still stings. He says the club’s suggestion that Silvagni had a conflict of interest while his sons Jack and Ben were on the club’s roster caught him completely off guard.
Carlton’s press release in December, 2019, claimed: “The difficult decision to not enter into a new contract with Silvagni as GM List Management and Strategy centred around the increasing complexity of having two sons on the playing list.
“The situation is not only a conflict for the Club’s GM List Management and Strategy, but equally for those who work in and around him in the football department.”
Silvagni responded on Wednesday by declaring the club’s handling of the situation was “amateur”.
“Looking back at the press release, it just put the boys under the bus,” Silvagni told SEN Breakfast.
“I thought it was amateur, to be honest. It really lacked any respect in terms of how you handle people on the way out. That was probably the most hurtful thing.
“Your two biggest assets at a football club are your supporters and your players. The way that press release was written up I think put two players under the bus and put more pressure on them than they should have to handle throughout a season.”
He said his exit conversation with Liddle was very different to the version portrayed in the press release.
“If he (Liddle) actually used the words he used to me when he decided not to go on with me, I would’ve been fine with that,” he said.
“But when you use words that weren’t in that (private meeting) – and I asked him if that’s the reason why you want to not renew my contract that’s fine, but make sure you use those words you’ve used – but he didn’t have the courage or conviction to use those words.
“Ultimately the words that were spoken to me was that it was untenable that I remained at the football club because my boys were there.”
Jack Silvagni was caught in the middle.Source:News Corp Australia
Silvagni also revealed salacious details of the club’s broken recruitment and list management system at the end of his tenure, suggesting Liddle’s interference destabilised the entire operation.
He claims Liddle went over the top of the football department last year to offer Betts more money that the club had previously agreed to.
“When certain people start splashing money out after we all agree what that payment should look like … I don’t find that fair,” he said.
“And that’s what I said at list management (meetings). We all have a responsibility to make sure that those players are looked after that are loyal to that football club. When you have people at football clubs overrule your decisions that you’ve worked so hard for – and because they want memberships to look great or they want the accolade that we’re bringing someone back – is their intention the right intention for the Carlton Football Club? And I don’t think it was.”
Silvagni also says he disagreed with the club’s pursuit of former Adelaide star Mitch McGovern with a reported big-money offer.
“I think Mitch was a better player at Adelaide, than he has been at Carlton,” he said.
“And that’s through a bit of that is his own fault in terms of the way he prepares and gets up for training each week.
“I feel as though the club hasn’t done him any favours, because they’ve played him when he’s been unfit and out of form.
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