Ex-Dees prez breaks silence on ‘threats, deceitful behavior’ amid drama over lyrics, turmoil off the pitch

Former Melbourne president Glen Bartlett has broken his silence on the club’s turmoil off the pitch, claiming that he and his partner “have been subject to threats, deceptive behavior and a public campaign to discredit us professionally and personally”.

Bartlett, who left the club in April last yearreleased a statement to the media on Thursday after they recently filed a subpoena with the Western Australia Supreme Court, in which The Age and its journalists Caroline Wilson and Jake Niall were charged with defamation.

It comes amid the ongoing furore surrounding coach Simon Goodwin’s alleged behaviour.

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“I did everything I could to have a club without bullying at work; gamble; harassment and illegal drugs,” Bartlett said in the statement.

He said he had called on current Melbourne President Kate Roffey “to address and correct her contribution to articles that were eventually published containing harmful and inaccurate stories about myself and my partner Victoria and our companies.” and correct.

“Mrs Roffey has declined to privately or publicly correct such statements.”


He denied leaking board papers to the media, “which is an issue that may be raised later in legal proceedings where it will be heard under oath.

“The allegation is false and I take it very seriously because it goes to the heart of my integrity and is clearly intended to further damage my reputation.”

The Herald Sun reported in February that the Melbourne board was discussing the possibility of firing Goodwin amid allegations of behavior problems, with disagreements between Bartlett and senior club figures over how to handle the situation.

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Glen Bartlett’s full statement, June 16, 2022

I’m referring to recent media outlets of the past few days (including print media, radio, podcasts, and national TV coverage) where some false stories have been put forth about me in regards to the Kate Roffey text saga and the AFL meeting.

I have been silent for months despite being spied on regularly since I decided to step down as president and so now I have no choice but to release the following statement:

On Sunday 11 April 2021, I announced my decision to step down as President of Melbourne Football Club.

Since that Sunday in the MCG, numerous articles have appeared for a considerable period of time purporting to publish the real reasons behind and circumstances of my departure and related matters. This is in addition to countless radio interviews, podcasts and TV shows. Many of the publications contained false and harmful material and perpetuated false stories.

I have never publicly commented on the errors and false stories in the coverage until now. The main reasons why I have not responded publicly so far is because of my desire to protect the club, including the coaches, the players and members, and quietly solve the problems behind the scenes. However, now that my defamation lawsuits became public and the comments that followed, I felt that it was enough and I must release this statement to clarify my position on certain matters that have been the subject of public comment.

The decision to resign when I did was mine. I did this to minimize distraction after a promising and indeed historic start to the season.

Former Melbourne President Glen Bartlett. (AAP image/Alex Murray)Source: AAP

As a president, employment attorney/occupational health attorney, and parent, I was unwilling to compromise fundamental values, the law, and expected standards of conduct.

I believe that my approach and raising these issues resulted in a campaign against me from various quarters that violated good governance and taking important but delicate and sensitive matters seriously. It also showed, in my opinion, a disregard for the health and well-being of both me and my partner and our professional and business interests.

Since March 2021, we have been subject to threats, deceitful behavior and a public campaign to discredit us professionally and personally.

I have also, as stated above and as has been reported, complained of, and had to take action regarding what I allege are false and defamatory publications about me. The pain, suffering and harm caused by these publications is exacerbated by the fact that they have been published on the Internet and that past articles not only exist and remain on the Internet, but are also hyperlinked to them in later articles.

The costs have been great, especially to our health. I have communicated my concerns and requests to be left alone and to have the opportunity to leave the presidency and club with dignity to enjoy the season after eight years leading a united and collegial board and club. Unfortunately this was not the case.

After I left the board last November 2021, threats were made towards myself and my partner even in February and March of this year. We have asked for commitments to stop the threats and contributions to defamatory publications – these commitments have not materialised.

The AFL has been informed of the above and is aware of the bullying behavior and threats against myself and my partner and the impact on our health and well-being.

Now on to the publications that I consider to be defamatory and false about me. I gave Kate Roffey several opportunities to address and correct her contribution to articles that were eventually published containing harmful and inaccurate stories about myself and my partner Victoria and our companies. Ms. Roffey has declined to privately or publicly correct such statements. One Herald Sun article has been corrected, and the publication of those “text messages” on June 7, 2022 related to that legal dispute and that Herald Sun correction. The “text messages” were not leaked, but as the article explains, legitimately obtained by the Herald Sun during the legal dispute.

It’s one thing to be subjected to a campaign of leaks, and that’s bad enough. However, it is quite another to be subjected to a campaign of misleading and malicious and alleged leaks designed to harm me.

I also want to make one thing crystal clear: There have been suggestions that I leaked board papers to Michael Warner during the Herald Sun in February and the news of my resignation from Tom Morris the night before the Geelong game in April 2021.

I have not leaked this information published by the Herald Sun and Fox Footy, which is an issue that may come up later in legal proceedings where it will be heard under oath. The allegation is false and I take it very seriously because it touches the core of my integrity and is clearly intended to further damage my reputation.

In recent months, I have given the relevant journalists and publishers the opportunity to allay my concerns and also make commitments not to engage in further defamatory behaviour. No such commitments have been made and my serious concerns remain unresolved, so I believe I had no choice but to initiate legal proceedings.

In particular, as has been reported, I recently filed a subpoena in the Supreme Court of Western Australia against Caroline Wilson, Jake Niall and The Age (and several related entities).

To be clear, the legal action is NOT directed against the Melbourne Football Club and the members who own the club.

I have spent eight years rebuilding Melbourne and I still have a lot of affection for the club, its members, players and sponsors. I loved my time there and am extremely proud of what has been achieved and look forward to continued success.

I was deeply committed from the moment I took the helm from Peter Jackson and Paul Roos in 2013 to bring about cultural change within the club. This is not always popular; however, leadership is not a popularity contest or “being partners” in my opinion. I believed in and led with confidence, respect and unity to the end. In my opinion, and I have said this many times, it is imperative that our people who leave the club are always treated with dignity and respect – in my view the culture of an organization is defined by the way people leave the organization, or that whether player or staff member, a coach, the club doctor or chairman.

I know I wasn’t perfect, but during my time at the club I treated the well-being of all our people (from the senior coach to the boot studder) as the most important thing and was steadfast in my responsibility to protect every person (including every parent) ) look in the eye and confirm that I did everything I could to have a club that is free from bullying at work; gamble; harassment and illegal drugs. I was really committed to having the best environment for all of our people 24/7 and I treated everyone with respect.

Individual and team performance are different and should never be hindered by behavior control or used as a reason to “obscure” necessary behavior/behavior management. It’s also a fact that the clubs that have developed the strongest cultures by embedding the ‘right behaviour’ have had lasting success by playing in the most final campaigns (and winning the most premierships) over the past 20 years.

Finally, football has always been an important part of my life and preserving the integrity of the sport is my top priority. Given the pending investigations and legal proceedings we have initiated, I will not comment further on these issues at this time, and would like to ask all involved to respect our privacy and well-being.

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