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Flailing United to meet with angry supporters over "non-issue"

Soccer

Not for the first time, A-league ladder-laggers Adelaide United have found themselves at loggerheads with their most fervent fans, with a crisis meeting to be held tomorrow night between club management and the Red Army supporter group as the team’s season sinks away.

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Things came to a flashpoint after Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Melbourne Victory, with fans taking to the Red Army AUFC’s social media sites to vent their displeasure after United fell from last season’s premiers and champions to being mired three points adrift at the foot of the A-League ladder.

InDaily has been told chairman Greg Griffin was the target of abuse by a supporter after the game, but he did not comment today, saying the supporter standoff was “not worth our time”.

“It’s a non-issue,” he told InDaily.

Nonetheless, club officials have evidently deemed the matter significant enough to meet with Red Army organisers tomorrow night, with Griffin acknowledging there would be a face-to-face between club CEO Grant Mayer “and the people at the Red Army”, but he refused to elaborate.

“That’s as much as I’m saying,” he said.

Mayer was unavailable to comment, with the club saying the matter was “for us to discuss between ourselves”, and Red Army president Zoran Milojevic has not responded to inquiries today.

But the group posted a statement last night saying it had been contacted by Mayer, who was concerned by an incident at Saturday’s game as well as subsequent comments made by supporters.

“Grant Mayer… made contact with myself late last night in regards to an incident that occurred outside the stadium,” Milojevic said in the statement.

“Aside from the incident, which the club has indicated they will deal with, they are concerned with the comments that those supporters made after the game as well as comments made by the Red Army and other members of the club.

“We have had huge feedback from our association members that they are unhappy with a number of decisions and the direction of the club both on and off field and we will be relaying this to Grant and the AUFC Management team.”

The Red Army’s statement followed a release by the club yesterday, which lamented that “a number of fans saw fit to express their views as to the team’s performance and the ‘lack of’ investment this season in the Adelaide United playing squad”.

“Putting aside the totally inappropriate language used and directed to AUFC Board Members and family of our coaching staff, which will be dealt with, the club believes it is important to correct the falsities in the minds of some fans regarding player spend this season,” the statement continued.

“The club has spent 100 per cent of the Hyundai A-League’s salary cap and we have utilised our home-grown player allocation and marquee funds.

“Our recruitment and retention decisions have not been made by a sole individual. The Club’s Football Sub-Committee, which includes owners, senior management, and all members of the coaching staff, have been aligned through this process. We equally share the burden of our successes and failures.”

The club enthused about its investment in Women’s Football and Youth Development, adding: “This is without mentioning the infrastructure costs associated with the setting up of the Playford Training Facility and the soon to be opened Northern Football Building at Elizabeth”.

“In addition to this, our January transfer window recruitment plan, which we are already implementing, has been in place since the start of the season,” it continued.

“We are working feverishly to secure the further players we acknowledge are required to return the club to its rightful position on the ladder.

“We anticipate making positive announcements in this regard during the course of the transfer period.”

The transfer window closes early next month.

The Red Army said it had received “a huge response” to the club’s statement, with many supporters on social media seemingly unconvinced about how the cap has been spent.

The stoush comes just over a year after the Red Army joined a national protest against the FFA, staging a walkout of a home game against Perth Glory after several banned soccer fans were named and shamed in a media article.

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