A-League clubs must be accountable for their fans' behaviour

It's unfair, it smacks of panic and it goes against Australia's abolition of collective punishment but making A-League clubs fully responsible for their supporters' unruly actions is the only way to beat the hooligan.

melbourne victory

The Melbourne derby was marred when two flares were ripped from the Victory end of the ground Source: Getty Images

The flare-mongering morons are winning the war of attrition with the game and A-League clubs should be docked points if their fans engage in anti-social or illegal behaviour in or outside the stadiums.

Football Federation Australia and the A-League for far too long have been far too lenient with a group of unscrupulous criminals who are compromising the very survival of the game in Australia.

Only days after Western Sydney Wanderers were hit with a $50,000 fine and given a 12-month suspended sentence of a points deduction after their fans let off flares and detonators in the match at Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium, the latter's supporters ripped two flares during and caused trouble before the weekend derby against Melbourne City at AAMI Park.

Clearly the threat of a suspended sentence did not deter these imbeciles, who think they can continue to hijack the game.

I don't care if such draconian measures as docking points will end up punishing innocent fans and the players themselves: this is something that needs to be done as soon as possible or else we soon will have no game to watch anymore. It's as simple as that.
A points deduction would be messy, would cause even more negative publicity in the media and would put the game on shaky ground.

It has come to this and unfortunately we now have no other choice.

Clubs will have to get off their behinds and tackle an escalating problem that should have been dealt with head-on when it was just a little nuisance that they hoped would go away in time.

This did not happen because the fledgling league was reluctant to lose paying customers, FFA did not have the guts to do the job properly because it meant upsetting the clubs and the football family at large found it convenient to cite the sinister motives of the so-called 'anti-football mafia' in the mainstream media as an excuse for doing nothing.

It's only a minority and anti-football reports were blatant beat-ups designed to denigrate the game and the culture that goes with it, we kept telling ourselves.

Well, this minority has been causing plenty of major damage for its size and it's time to break it once and for all.

And it is also time to acknowledge that, distortion of facts and even lies apart, the media would have nothing to say about our game if everybody behaved.

For goodness sake, we're dealing here with a competition aggregate of not much more than a couple of hundred fans, mainly from Victory and the Wanderers, not thousands of yobs on a drunken rampage.

So it cannot possibly be that hard for clubs to identify the unruly elements within their support base and hand over the names to the police.

Such a measure could also encourage genuine supporters to let the yobs know in no uncertain terms what they think of their contribution to the club they claim to support.

Clubs might argue that identifying culprits is not their job, especially since they pay considerable fees to police for matchday security, and they would not be too keen for their supporters to turn into vigilantes with all the ensuing problems such a scenario could cause.

Regardless, clubs should be made accountable for their fans' behaviour, mainly, because they are in the best position to stamp out the cancer.

FFA have shown they are unable to solve the problem and the police do not fully understand football culture.

Which leaves us with the clubs ... who would have every reason to get rid of the bad eggs because it would be in their own interest to do so.

I bet they instantly would stop pussy-footing about the matter when faced with the prospect of losing money or competition points.

If clubs can't fix the problem they should get specialists to do it for them: the costs would be considerable but they would also serve as a solid investment.

Issuing grand statements declaring that hooligans are cowards and unwelcome at the club is as effective in dealing with illegal behavour as warning foreign drug smugglers that they are unwanted in the country.

I do not particularly like this idea of docking clubs vital points because, as I said, it would punish the wrong people.

Reading a league table with a few asterisks denoting points deducted would not make a pretty sight.

But this is all part of the world we live in, unfortunately. As in other spheres of life, law-abiding citizens often pay a price for the deeds of the unruly minority.

It's why these days we have to spend hours going through the motions of boarding an international flight just for security reasons.

There is only one way out of this impasse and it's football's last chance to save itself.

It could be untidy and unpleasant at first but, hey, if it works look at the rewards.

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5 min read
Published 15 February 2016 at 11:06am
By Philip Micallef
Source: SBS