Melbourne Victory's tough response to record A-League sanctions

The A-League club has announced the drastic response to the controversy that rocked Australian football.

Melbourne Victory have announced they've disbanded an active supporter group involved in the shocking A-League pitch invasion incident. Pic: Getty
Melbourne Victory have announced they've disbanded an active supporter group involved in the shocking A-League pitch invasion incident. Pic: Getty

Melbourne Victory have announced they will take the drastic measure of disbanding an active supporter group of the football club, in the wake of the pitch invasion furore that saw the A-League club handed a record sanction this week. Football Australia (FA) on Tuesday issued the club with $550,000 in fines stemming from last month's violent pitch invasion in their A-League Men (ALM) derby with Melbourne City that cast a dark cloud over the sport.

The club avoided an immediate points deduction after FA handed down its sanctions on Tuesday but the Victory will play the next three-and-a-half seasons with a 10-point sanction and the threat of a transfer ban hanging over their heads, if fans step out of line again.

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In the wake of Tuesday's sanctions, Victory have announced that they will disband the active supporter group Original Style Melbourne. FA had already banned the supporter group for the rest of the season but the Melbourne club said it had gone one step further by signalling an end to the fan group.

“Melbourne Victory has separately committed to the disbandment of any A-League Men’s active supporter groups that were recognised at the time of the incident,” a statement read. “(We) will work with FA, A-Leagues, AAMI Park, Victoria Police and other stakeholders as well as the new taskforce announced by FA to ensure an incident of this nature never occurs again.

“The club has strongly advocated to FA and the league over the few weeks to ensure both the final and interim sanctions imposed by FA acknowledge that what occurred at the derby was not reflective of the majority of our North End members or the broader Melbourne Victory fanbase.”

FA chief executive James Johnson said on Tuesday that deducting competition points from Victory in response to the ugly pitch invasion was considered, however, the league was mindful about how that would affect the integrity of the A-League Men competition.

"We felt that if we were to implement a points deduction now, it wasn't the most effective way of deterring the fans," Johnson said. "If a spectator runs onto the pitch and there's an assault, there will be an automatic 10-point deduction and if that were to occur, that will destroy Melbourne Victory's (season)."

The suspended points deduction only applies to the club's ALM side and will last until the end of the 2025-26 season, with any similar violent incidents likely to invoke its application. The FA boss said his organisation had shown they were willing to crack down on crowd violence.

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FA's boss claimed the game's governing body, which regulates the ALM on behalf of the Australian Professional Leagues (APL), would meet any further misbehaviour with harsher penalties. "In future you're going to see as a regulator, be able to use other mechanisms, such as club licensing rules or transfer system sanctions as well," Johnson said.

Johnson said City goalkeeper Tom Glover would not be punished for hurling a flare into Victory's active supporter bay. The incident was viewed as the trigger point for the pitch invasion which led to Glover and referee Alex King being attacked.

Melbourne City keeper Tom Glover was left with a cut on his face after being assaulted by Melbourne Victory fans during the A-League derby. Image: Twitter/Getty
Melbourne City keeper Tom Glover was left with a cut on his face after being assaulted by Melbourne Victory fans during the A-League derby. Image: Twitter/Getty

"He gets off on this occasion," Johnson added. "We do need some protocols to educate players about (flares) and that's something our taskforce will look at."

Rather than award a walkover to City following the violence, the game will resume from the 22nd minute - the time when Victory fans stormed the pitch and assaulted opposition goalkeeper Glover. City will retain their 1-0 lead from the abandoned match.

"Whoever wins the competition needs to be remembered for winning it on the pitch," Johnson said. "Whether you're deducting points from Melbourne Victory or you're giving points to City, it's something we wanted to avoid. We wanted the integrity of the season to remain intact."

The $550,000 penalty represents the biggest fine in the sport's history in Australia. It comprises $350,000 in an immediate fine, a three-and-a-half-year $100,000 suspended fine, and $100,000 to make-up for lost revenue. Away supporter bays will be closed off to Victory fans for the remainder of the season.

with AAP

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