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Fan anger the A-League's 'biggest ever problem'

Soccer

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold says fan boycotts are the biggest problem to ever face the A-League and has urged an immediate resolution.

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The club’s supporter group The Cove have promised to boycott Friday’s clash with Newcastle at Allianz Stadium amid a climate of tension between fans and the game’s administrators.

The Sky Blues’ fans have joined other supporters groups in snubbing this weekend’s fixtures over the ongoing feud over stadium bans and the appeals process.

Asked if the divide between fans and administrators was the biggest problem faced by Football Federation Australia in the 11-year-history of the A-League, Arnold said: “Yes.”

“Without the TV rights and without the fans there is no game in this country,” Arnold said.

“It’s something that you want to go away very quickly.”

The Cove spokesman Grant Muir said supporters groups from all other A-League clubs except Wellington Phoenix were planning to boycott.

He said while they wanted to avoid walking out of games, anger at the leadership of FFA chairman David Gallop had forced them into action.

“I don’t need some rugger bugger (Gallop) telling me how to support my team,” Muir said.

The Cove, in a statement issued on Facebook, said the unpopular stadium ban appeals process showed contempt for basic human rights.

“This is not an action taken lightly (boycott), we have tried to discuss issues with the FFA directly, this did not work.

“What we were told was quickly contradicted and contradicted again … it appears that the FFA needs to better understand how serious the issues are.

“It is clear from Gallop’s words that not only does he not have the answers, he is yet to comprehend the questions.”

Arnold said while no one tolerated misbehaviour, he said several recent attacks on the game’s fans had left him feeling “ill”.

The issue was sparked by the publication by News Corp of the names and photos of 198 A-League fans who had been banned from attending live games.

A weekend editorial in Melbourne’s Herald Sun likened some supporters to “suburban terrorists”.

Arnold said the fans were the game’s lifeblood and it could not afford to lose them.

“It’s something that needs to be addressed because we can’t afford to lose the fans. If it’s not addressed how do you win them back? It’s massive,” Arnold said.

AAP

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