Dear Members and Supporters,

Over recent weeks there has been a lot of media coverage, and subsequently supporter feedback to the Club, around alleged behaviours of two of our AFL players, Clayton Oliver and Joel Smith.

It is entirely understandable that supporters would want to know if these are isolated behavioural issues or whether they are a reflection of a broader cultural concern.

Separate to this, it is important to also put to an end, once and for all, the false rumours that have been circling for three years in the media about our AFL Senior Coach Simon Goodwin.

I am sending this update because we understand how unsettling it is to be hearing rumours and media coverage about our players without a true and balanced view from the Club.

Let me start with the player behavioural issues that have recently been in the media. 


On the 6th October, we advised supporters that while we will continue to support Clayton with his complex personal challenges, he like every player, must meet our off-field Club standards and disciplines if he is to remain as part of the program long term.

The Club is aware of the personal challenges that Clayton has outside of football and key Club experts will remain part of his daily support team. I want to be clear that the current conversations we are having with Clayton are not related to these challenges, but rather his ability to make disciplined life decisions, reflective of what is expected of all our professional athletes.

Club leaders have very clearly outlined to Clayton the behavioural expectations that we have of him, and these behaviours will be reviewed on a regular basis. It is the player leadership group, as well as Alan Richardson, Simon Goodwin and myself, who will decide if Clayton is meeting minimum behavioural expectations.

In some ways, AFL football programs are akin to a large family. While honest feedback is often difficult, this approach will give Clayton the best chance to thrive within our high-performance environment, and the best chance for him to have a long career at the Melbourne Football Club.


Supporters are aware that Joel is currently under investigation by Sport Integrity Australia and the AFL. During this time, he is provisionally suspended from any involvement with the Club. The Club is not privy to any specific information relating to the process, and is not authorised to give any updates to supporters until a final outcome is decided.

Joel is aware that once Club leaders receive the results of the investigation, they will then determine if any further action is appropriate based on cultural standards and expectations.

As supporters can see that while both the alleged behaviours of the players are serious in nature, they are unrelated. It would be totally inappropriate to take the accountability away from the players and the decisions they are alleged to have made by blaming either our cultural programs or cultural leaders.


I wish to address the three years of allegations and innuendo suffered by Simon Goodwin, which are completely without basis or truth. I personally investigated the matter and did so by methodically interviewing every person that I was aware of who had spread the initial rumours. All admitted there was no basis to the claims but were simply passing on what they had heard from others.

The only valid information was that Simon was seen having a drink with some of our player leaders at the Sorrento Hotel which was hardly surprising, given his strong relationship with the players who were holidaying in the area over the summer break.

The ongoing embellishment and spreading of untrue rumours have placed an enormous stress and mental toll on Simon and his family over the last three years.

It is totally unacceptable, and it must stop.


There has been a lot of talk about our high-performance culture from people external to the Club. 

I would like to now spend some time outlining how important our cultural programs and our cultural leaders are to our on-field performance.

Our AFL program has a very clear and strong high-performance culture, built on two fundamental elements.

The first is a commitment to value-based behaviours and standards that apply to everyone.

The second is a commitment to performance excellence. Everyone in our program is clear on the expectations of both elements, and they fully understand the accountability that is required to build a program to compete in the elite AFL competition.

Overseeing the high-performance program are two of the most impressive culture-based leaders in the AFL in Alan Richardson and Simon Goodwin. Aligned to Alan and Simon are our senior player leaders Max Gawn, Jack Viney, Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Jake Lever, Alex Neal-Bullen and Christian Salem. They are driven and bolstered by our emerging leaders in Tom Sparrow, Kade Chandler and Charlie Spargo.

Collectively, this leadership group has rebuilt the high-performance culture that directly led to our 2021 AFL premiership, a three-time consecutive top four finish and a permanent fixture in the top eight for the past three AFL seasons.

When you think about the Melbourne Football Club’s AFL program and assess our culture, these are the individuals who you should think of. These leaders obsessively drive our culture every single day, and are the group committed to delivering future success.

Unfortunately, a strong culture does not guarantee that we will not have isolated behaviour issues from time to time in the future. This is not a sign of a fractured culture, but an opportunity for our Club leaders, including myself, to take responsibility and reaffirm our expectations of individuals in a high-performance environment. It is also important that the players who live our standards and disciplines every day see that those who fail to do so are held to account.

In no way am I saying our programs are perfect, in fact there is no such thing. We continually review our cultural programs throughout the year and post season. We will continue to evolve and move with the changing dynamics of our Club and the broader industry.

I am very aware that the recent player controversies surrounding our AFL program have in some cases damaged the trust between the Club and you, our supporters.

Please know that our leaders in myself, the Board, General Manager Football Alan Richardson, Senior Coach Simon Goodwin, Captain Max Gawn, Vice-Captain Jack Viney and so many others are committed as ever to making you feel proud to belong. I have full faith in our ability to do so.