Following a heated four-hour meeting with representatives from all 10 active supporter groups in Sydney on Wednesday night, FFA chief executive David Gallop announced numerous in-principal alterations to its long-time policy.
Instead of a “ban” notice, fans will be issued with an “intention to ban” notice and allowed to see the evidence against them.
That includes retrospectively the 198 people already banned, if the evidence against them still exists.
If the ban is maintained, they will then have an opportunity to see an independent panel at a later date.
“Obviously there’s some fine-tuning that needs to happen, but I’m pleased to say that representatives of all 10 clubs’ fan groups were there tonight and endorsed those changes,” Gallop said.
Gallop said one the finer details that still needed work was evidence given to FFA on the basis of anonymity.
The changes form part of a review of FFA’s appeals policy promised last week by new chairman Steven Lowy and to be finalised at the next board meeting in February.
The organisation’s overhaul is a significant departure from the uncompromising and hardline stance regarding confidentiality of evidence the governing body had maintained right up until Wednesday.
A transparent appeals process whereby the onus of proof lies with FFA has been a crucial demand of furious fans who have walked out of games and last weekend stepped up their protests to full-match boycotts.
The rage stemmed from News Corp Australia’s outing of a leaked list of 198 banned fans late last month and mushroomed due to FFA’s perceived unwillingness to show leadership and stand up for football supporters.
Gallop could not say for certain whether the breakthrough meeting was enough to stop fans from continuing their match boycotts for a second successive week.
But he described the breakthrough meeting as productive, albeit underpinned by “some strong feelings” and “robust debate”.
About 30 fans from across the 10 clubs united to attend the unprecedented roundtable, attended by Gallop and A-League head Damien De Bohun.
Also in attendance was former Socceroo and now Fox Sports pundit Mark Bosnich, who it’s understood organised and partly funded the exercise, while Fox Sports’ Adam Peacock MC’d the occasion.
Supporter groups plan to issue a statement indicating their position on Thursday.
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