Clayton Oliver in action during Melbourne's win over Hawthorn in round nine, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE chief executive Gary Pert says the AFL club doesn't have a culture problem but has put star midfielder Clayton Oliver and suspended utility Joel Smith on notice after both failed to meet the club's "behavioural expectations".

Smith is provisionally suspended after he recorded a positive in-season drugs test to cocaine following a win over Hawthorn in round 23.

Oliver's future at the club was a hot topic ahead of the Trade Period after reported that rival clubs believed it was possible to pry the superstar midfielder out of the Demons.

Oliver, who is contracted until 2030, was also taken to hospital earlier this month following what the club said was a "medical episode".

In an extraordinary open letter to Demons fans on Monday, Pert put Oliver and Smith on notice, and reiterated the club's support of coach Simon Goodwin.

Pert said Oliver must meet the club's off-field standards and discipline 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," Pert wrote.


"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."

Clayton Oliver during the match between Carlton and Melbourne at the MCG on August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Smith is facing a maximum four-year ban after his positive drug test, which was revealed on October 19.

Even if he gets off with a lighter suspension, Smith could face further sanctions from the club's leaders.

"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," Pert said.

Joel Smith in action for Melbourne against Collingwood in round 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Unspecified rumours about Goodwin's off-field behaviour have been swirling for years and Pert said they were simply fake.

"I wish to address the three years of allegations and innuendo suffered by Simon Goodwin, which are completely without basis or truth," Pert wrote.

"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."

Simon Goodwin at Melbourne training on September 10, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The talk surrounding Goodwin, Oliver and Smith have led many to question Melbourne's culture.

Pert insists the culture is strong, saying isolated incidents don't reflect the culture as a whole.

"Unfortunately, a strong culture does not guarantee that we will not have isolated behaviour issues from time to time in the future," Pert said. 

"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. 

Melbourne chief executive Gary Pert speaks to the media during Daisy Pearce's retirement announcement on January 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"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.

"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, 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."