A-League powerhouse Melbourne Victory have been hit with a record financial penalty and a range of other harsh measures by Football Australia after their supporters shocked the sport by invading the pitch during a match last month.
On Tuesday the governing body announced the club will be hit with financial penalties totalling $550,000 – with $450,000 of that consisting of fines and the remainder being lost revenue.
In addition, no seating will be allocated for their fans at away games for the rest of the 2022-23 regular season and finals series.
Melbourne City goalie Tom Glover had to be escorted off the field after he was attacked with a metal bin during the shameful scenes on December 17
Victory fans (seen during the pitch invasion) have now been barred from attending away games for the rest of the 2022-23 A-League season
The team must also block their fans from sitting behind the goals at the north end of their AAMI Park home ground for the rest of the current campaign.
Victory will have a suspended 10-point deduction hanging over their heads for the next three seasons, ready to be triggered any time their supporters misbehave.
The remainder of the round eight match against Melbourne City that had to be abandoned after 22 minutes due to the shocking scenes will have to be replayed in April this year.
Angry Victory supporters burst past the security presence and crashed through barriers to reach the pitch, causing the game to be called off
A-League fans had been protesting the decision to move the grand final to Sydney for financial reasons with banners and flares at the match
Many unrepentant Victory supporters have lashed Football Australia and the Australian Professional Leagues over the decision, saying they were heavy-handed and unwarranted.
Congratulations on once again killing active support in this country
Victory supporter Nathan Xuebsy
Penalising the entire support atmosphere is threatening the future of the A league by weakening the strongest club and supporter base
Victory fan Ben Horvath
‘I think FA have gone too far on this. Fines yes, the closing off of active support is BS! Your threatening the future of our beloved game! Yes it was disgusting behaviour…..that goes without saying, but penalising the entire support atmosphere is threatening the future of the A league by weakening the strongest club and supporter base,’ Ben Horvath posted.
‘Completely destroyed the life blood of the club. Deduct points sure, ban active support fair enough, but the economic ramifications of this will be catastrophic for the club and football in this country. This must be Football Australia’s attempt at forcing Victory to relocate to Sydney,’ Chris Tsonis added.
‘Congratulations on once again killing active support in this country. Such a shameful way for FA to handle this,’ Nathan Xuebsy said.
Victory members continue to support their club in limited numbers after all other fans were locked out of A-League games under the heavy penalties
Football Australia will also put together a taskforce in response to the incident that will focus on the ongoing issues surrounding flares being smuggled into venues and used during matches.
‘Football Australia will establish and manage a taskforce and include various stakeholders and experts from the Victoria and NSW Police, and hosting venues,’ FA said in a statement.
‘The terms of reference of the newly created taskforce will be defined soon and will include developing measures to curb flare use and reduce entry of flares into venues
Football Australia will form a taskforce in combination with police to further crack down on the use of flares during A-League fixtures
‘[The taskforce will also] explore areas of improvement for security and policing venues, review supporter liaison and Marshall training use, review of active support ticket and member requirements and the review of supporter marches pre-match.’
The penalties come after supporters stormed the pitch after 20 minutes of play during the A-League Melbourne derby at AAMI Park on December 17.
Crowds had been protesting the Australian Professional Leagues decision to sell the A-League grand final for the next three years – starting this season.
While other games saw passive protests including walkouts, the crowd erupted at AAMI park, breaking down barriers, hurling water bottles and flares and attacking officials and even players.
The blacked out section at the northern end of AAMI Park where Victory fans are now forbidden to sit in a bid to prevent further violence
There has been a strong police presence at Victory games since December 17 to ensure fans are on their best behaviour
Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover was left bloodied and concussed after he was struck in the head with a bucket of sand, allegedly in retaliation to the custodian tossing a lit flare back into the crowd.
Acting Victorian Police superintendent Jason Goddard previously condemned the ‘shocking, disgraceful and and un-Australian’ behaviour and several members of the crowd have been questioned by police with penalties and lengthy bans from games expected to be handed out.
‘What we saw … from those who chose to invade the pitch was shocking, disgraceful and lacked total respect for the game of football,’ Supt Goddard said.
OSM members pose for a photo with Melbourne Victory recruit Nani and their shirt and logo during the English Premier League tour of Australia this year
Radical A-League fan group Original Style Melbourne [OSM] issued two apologies following the carnage at AAMI Park.
‘We strongly condemn the actions of a minority of active fans at yesterday’s derby,’ the group posted on Instagram.
‘Our protest yesterday was intended to unite all fans. A vital element of the campaign against the APL decision, was that the walkout and protest remained peaceful, so as not to take away and distract from our argument.’