The Wanderers submitted their response to FFA by the stipulated deadline of 5pm (AEDT) yesterday, two days after being ordered to show cause why they should not face sanction for “bringing the game into disrepute”.
They face a nervous wait as FFA reviews the submission before making a determination on what action to take.
Chief executive John Tsatsimas said the submission outlined a number of methods they felt might help eliminate pyrotechnic displays like the one that halted Saturday night’s clash with Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.
The flares and detonators, ignited inside the Wanderers’ away bay, infuriated FFA and swept the governing body into action against a club that had already weathered its fair share of storms over the behaviour of its fan base.
If the police can’t find them, security, the FFA and the club can’t deal with them, there’s no easy solution
Tsatsimas has pinpointed the problem at away matches, where any member of the public can buy tickets for the designated supporters’ bays, as opposed to home games where only members are able to enter the Red and Black Bloc (RBB) section.
But while roundly condemning the actions of a few, he joined a growing chorus – including rival Victory coach Kevin Muscat – in arguing it would be “totally unfair” for FFA to inflict collateral damage on Tony Popovic’s A-League leaders by docking them competition points.
“We defend all the efforts undertaken by those involved in the club who are good people – the fans, our members, players, coaches, staff and board,” Tsatsimas said.
“They’ve done nothing wrong in this instance, and penalising the club doesn’t eradicate the problem.
“The problem is not within the club. It’s people using the club from an external basis for their own personal narcissistic pursuits.
“It’s totally unfair – I don’t think it’s appropriate.”
Muscat says the top of the table Wanderers shouldn’t wear a penalty that affects their league position on account of “mindless people that come to football stadiums to cause this sort of havoc”.
“I do feel for Popa and the players, coming under that sort of scrutiny,” Muscat told Fox Sports News.
“They’ve worked so hard to get the points they’ve got. To be threatened with losing points, I feel sorry for them.”
In the most powerful statement by an A-League coach on the issue, Muscat said fans that took flares or detonators weren’t wanted.
“It doesn’t add to the game. It’s not good for the spectacle. It’s actually frowned upon by everyone. The bottom line is, it’s a crime,” he said.
“There’s no need for it… there’s certainly no room for it in our club and there’s certainly no room for it in the competition as a whole.”
Regardless of his personal views, he said he trusted governing body Football Federation Australia to “gather the right information and make the decision that’s best for everybody”.
Wanderers players Brendon Santalab and Dario Vidosic denounced the unruly behaviour and conceded FFA needed to act against law-breakers – but not the players.
“We give 100 per cent week in, week out, so to punish the players would be ridiculous in my mind,” he said.
It was a view already taken by Brisbane striker Jamie Maclaren this week.
Despite the Wanderers’ tireless work in coordinating security with various venues and authorities, Tsatsimas lamented that “there’ll always be elements out of our control” at away fixtures.
The next is the Sydney derby, which draws a large contingent of travelling Wanderers fans, including non-members.
“At the end of the day, if the police can’t find them, and security can’t deal with them, the FFA can’t deal with them and the club can’t deal with them, then there’s no easy solution,” Tsatsimas said.
“People far better at policing and with far better knowledge in that space than any of us haven’t found a solution.
“What I will be saying is that everyone is working together to get to some point where these morons are eliminated from our game.”
Police presence will also likely be increased at Pirtek Stadium for Sunday’s home match against Wellington.
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