• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Carlton chief executive Brian Cook isn’t ready to declare this season a failure or success ahead of the club’s virtual elimination final against Collingwood on Sunday.

The Blues could lose to the Magpies and still hold onto eighth spot if the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda both lose, with the Saints needing a major percentage boost even if they do upset Sydney.

Carlton last made the finals nine years ago, when it benefited from the AFL barring Essendon from competing in September as punishment for the supplementals scandal.

There is early hope that as many as 90,000 fans could pack into the MCG for the Blues-Magpies showdown, which doubles as Collingwood’s chance to lock in a top-four berth.

Cook said the chance to end the club’s significant finals drought made this week’s game “huge”.

“We’re seeing this week as an elimination final, really, for us, anyway,” he said.

“You can tell by the buzz among our fans and members, just how big it is. You can tell by the roar of the crowd at the weekend, the passion in the stands, just how much it means to people.

“I pass people in the street and they’re still very forthcoming about how they feel about the football club, so it’s a huge week.”

Cook believes it is premature to judge the Blues’ season with so much still up for grabs in the last round.

“I don’t want to get into failures and successes. I think it would be better for us to define our season at the end of the season, not right now,” he said.

“It’d be hypothetical now. We have got 100 per cent aim, target, dedication, energies towards the weekend – and hopefully it’s a few more weeks after that.

“But I’d be very happy to talk to anyone at the end of the year about what success looked like for the year and what failure might look like.”

Cook also hailed the completion of stage two of the Ikon Park redevelopment as “a genuine commitment and display of gender equality”.

Fans can return to the club for the first time in more than two years, including Thursday week’s AFLW season-opener at the venue between Carlton and Collingwood.

The $50m redevelopment makes the Blues the first AFL club to have fully integrated facilities for men and women, including new changerooms, elite recovery, cardio and high performance areas, and broadcast-quality lighting.

“These facilities are state of the art in Australia (and) what you will find here is that all of the facilities for the AFL and the AFLW are the same size, same quality,” Cook said.

“Of course, there are some areas which are separate, but gyms and indoor facilities and a lot of other areas are integrated.

“It’s probably the first of its kind in Australia and we’re very proud of it.”

Stage three of the Ikon Park redevelopment is set for completion in mid-September.

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