STEVEN May won't play in Melbourne's crucial Queen's Birthday clash with Collingwood after the star defender was banned for one game by the club after an alcohol-fuelled fight with teammate Jake Melksham.
May, who was due to return against the Magpies after sustaining a concussion in the Demons' round 11 loss to Fremantle, became involved in an altercation with Melksham about 9pm on Sunday night after dinner with several teammates.
He and Melksham told the club of the incident afterwards, and expressed their remorse.
In a video released by the club on Tuesday evening, May apologised to Demons supporters and his teammates for the incident.
“There’s nothing I can really say, it’s all about actions and what I do going forward,” he said.
“I know they’ll be extremely disappointed – our fans and supporters have been huge fans of mine and have backed me in.
“I feel really apologetic to them – they’ve always had my back.
“Me not being out on the field is letting them down, letting the team down."
May said he and Melksham had already smoothed over their disagreement, despite the altercation on Sunday night.
“We’re really good mates, we have a lot of love for each other,” he said.
“Sometimes guys can get a little bit competitive with the banter and go a little bit overboard.
“We certainly made an error of judgement in that time.
“We certainly didn’t mean for any of this to come back on the footy club."
Melbourne football boss Alan Richardson said the club was deeply disappointed by the All-Australian defender's actions.
"Following a dinner on Sunday evening, Jake and Steven informed us of a scuffle that took place after a lighthearted disagreement between the pair escalated," Richardson said.
"Given Steven is still under the AFL concussion protocols from Round 11, he was aware that under club guidelines he should not have been drinking.
"The leadership group has recommended to impose a one-match ban on Steven, a decision which has been endorsed by the club's broader leadership. This will make him unavailable for both AFL and VFL selection.
"Steven and Jake will also complete community service through one of the club's community partners to ensure they understand the responsibility and impact they have as role models within the community.
"Over the past three years, Steven has developed into one of our most important on-field leaders, and while the impact of not having him available for selection is significant, what is more significant to us is our culture and the commitment we have to live by our values.
"Steven is extremely remorseful and accepts his actions were completely out of step with the expectations the club and his teammates have of him. He accepts the sanction handed down and makes no excuse for his poor judgement.
"We are proud of the culture we have built over the past few years and while we are disappointed with Steven's behaviour, we back in his character and will support him to ensure he is armed to make better decisions for himself and the football club moving forward."
After winning their first 10 games of the season, the Demons have suffered successive losses in the past two weeks to Fremantle and Sydney.
They will be looking to bounce back with a win over the improved Magpies, who are eighth with a 7-5 record after winning their past two matches.
May apologised to his teammates in June 2019 for drinking while injured during his difficult first season at the club after he crossed from Gold Coast in exchange for pick No.6.
The 30-year-old managed just eight games in his first year in red and blue, but has played 51 of a possible 54 games since, earning Therabody AFL All-Australian selection in 2021 as the Demons romped to their first premiership in 57 years.