As A-League club owners and supporter groups prepare for separate summit talks in Sydney this week, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has called on fans to end their boycott of matches.
A-League owners and Football Federation Australia chief Steven Lowy will hold talks in Sydney on Wednesday, a meeting that coincides with talks between supporter groups of all 10 clubs designed to formulate a united front on their wish for an appeals process for banned fans.
The incident has been festering since the publication of the names of 198 banned supporters by News Limited, and supporters have been angered by a lack of support from the governing body.
After a second successive weekend marred by large chunks of fans missing matches, Postecoglou said the grandstanding was doing the game no favours.
“I’m hoping we’ve got to a point now where there’s conciliation between the governing body and the most disenfranchised group in this situation, which is the fans,” Postecoglou told the ABC’s Offsiders program on Sunday.
“We probably should have got to it a lot earlier.
“I think for the first week the supporters actually handled themselves pretty well.
“The protest of walking out during the game was very effective … (but) to carry on with this boycott, I’ve never liked anyone saying that without them, the game doesn’t exist. That is just garbage.
“None of us would exist without the actual game. If we all walked away, the game would still go on because there’d be a couple of kids in a park somewhere playing it.
“I think the point’s been made.”
His comments came after the latest weekend of supporter protests,
While FFA has promised to review its policy and introduce an appeals system, fans continued to vent their anger during round nine of the A-League.
The Wanderers’ ‘Red and Black Bloc’ didn’t attend their side’s 2-1 win against Brisbane, while Sydney FC’s The Cove section was empty during their 1-0 over Newcastle.
“They have their grievance (but) we want them back as soon as possible,” Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic said.
“Was it noticeable? For me, yes. Of course we would notice they’re not there because they create such an amazing atmosphere.”
Popovic wants his club’s supporter group to return for the blockbuster against Melbourne Victory next Saturday night, which will pit the league-leading Wanderers against second-placed Victory.
Postecoglou said the issue of the banned fans having no avenue of appeal is not a new one.
“For a long time, even when I was coaching Brisbane and Melbourne Victory, fans weren’t really happy with the process of banning supporters and the lack of an appeal process,” he said.
“They felt like they weren’t getting any traction.
“There was plenty of times where they voiced that disapproval but there wasn’t that cheerleading that happened this week by people trying to fan them along.
“Some of the cheerleading I’ve heard… #WeStandByTheFans. Well, it’s #WeStandByTheFansNow, because you didn’t stand by them a year ago when they were really screaming about the same issue.”
– with AAP