With the release of FFA’s blanket approach to active support across the A-league now up for debate, it’s worth dissecting how we came to this?
As of yesterday, the rest of the league’s most passionate fans are now paying the price from a combination of events that stem from an incident that occurred back in Melbourne at the tail end of the 2012/13 campaign.
The butterfly effect is an idea that said that the smallest event, even a butterfly flapping its wings, could have a huge effect on the world.
The below MVFC communications to the North Terrace back Feb 2013 describes in detail how one incident some 16 months ago caused a ripple that went on to result in major changes to the North Terrace after several successful seasons of supporting the boys out on the park. These include;
- New MVFC supporter measures to control access to the active bays
- A new leadership to emerge within the North Terrace
- The demise and collapse of BWB & its leadership
- The collapse of the MVFC Supporters Football Charter &
- The Increase match-day police presence
MVFC communications to the North Terrace back Feb 2013
Summary of incidents at MV v WSW – AAMI Park tail end of the 2012/13 campaign (Feb 17, 2013)
9:20:36pm to 9:23:20pm Member flag-waving initiates security response
9:23:25pm to 9:24:23pm Member 2 anti-social verbal and gesture gets evicted
9:24:25pm to 9:24:28pm Member 5 drag police down
9:24:28pm to 9:26:31pm VicPol take action and PORT enters to restore order
A supporter marshal and security officer approaches the fence to call out to members standing in Row E to get down from standing on the chairs. A member standing in section 37 waving a flag turns and waves it at the Supporter Marshall and Security Officer collecting them in the head several times. Security officer holds onto the flag (not pole) and walks over to advise the member to stop waving the flag while at the same time tending to a broken gate. The security officer steps backward away from the fence but the member continues to wave the flag collecting the security officer. The security officer takes hold of the fabric of the flag and pulls the flag from the members grasp.
5 seconds later, a second member confronts the security officer about the flag confiscation. The security officer advises the member to clear away from the gate and take a seat. As the member steps backward to sit, he raises a middle finger at the security officer. This security officer reaches over the fence to attempt an eviction; several supporters pull the member from the reach of the security officer. Security and police continue with the eviction in and amongst supporter pushing into the aisle and obstructing the eviction.
During the eviction, a member from behind 2 supporters reaches out towards a police officer and after 2 attempts; the member successfully grabs hold of the police officer’s vest (top left shoulder) and drags him down to the ground in front of a Senior Police. This officer responds with pepper spray and clears the area from pushing supporters.
Post incidents discussion
When the security officer approached the flag waver to have a word, the Supporter Marshall admits that the good rapport this particular security officer had with the supporters did not raise concerns and hence did not follow him over.
The Club agrees that the immediate attempt to evict the member for the rude gesture saw a breakdown in stakeholder communications and isn’t in line with the supporter charter process. The Club has already raised this breakdown with the venue prior to the meeting.
The Club acknowledges that the normal process of eviction is that either VicPol or ACG should have contacted the control room and notified the charter representatives (MVFC, VicPol, venue, ACG) of the incident. Once assessed and the eviction was warranted, MVFC would notify supporter marshals to communicate the eviction to the NT leaders.
All agree that this one instance in two years in which the supporter charter was breached by a stakeholder other than the supporters.
NT agrees that supporter behaviour must be in line with the terms of admission and social standards and therefore concede that the supporter behaviour demonstrated by the flag waver, the member’s rude gesture and resisting eviction, the deliberate pulling of the police down and member involvement in obstructing the eviction process is not acceptable behaviour.
The Club agrees that the increase in police and security presence in the Terrace can heighten tensions for both Supporters, Police and Security.
NT acknowledges that the increased VicPol and Security presence isn’t preferred by MVFC however due to the escalated number of incidences from the derbies, VicPol increased their presence as a proactive measure to deter the minority from anti-social behaviour (e.g. projectiles, fighting, flares).
All agree that the supporter charter should continually be assessed for compliance from all stakeholders.
Deviation from the expected supporter charter standard results in the escalation of issues.
NT and Club concerns
The club raises the issue that the intended silent protest and demonstration at the match on Sunday, March 3, 2013 as untimely as the Club is looking to the 12th man to spur the team on from a 3 consecutive match loss. After a series of issues by the NT, the club has continued to support the NT and expects that the same consideration would be carried out by NT
The NT advises the Club that there are issues with the intervention model in which the security are the first to enter the bay and are supported unchallenged by the police. This has shown to create a volatile instance when involving a resistant patron resulting in the incidences to escalate, setting off a VicPol response on the surrounding patrons.
The club believes that the show of solidarity is to have the club, stakeholders and key members of the NT convene and discuss the matters to evolve the supporter charter.
The club clarifies that the use of the word “brand” in the message to the North Terrace was referring to stamp/trademark and was not intended to patronise the NT as a “commercial product value”.
“…input from the group growing the signature and trademark of our club at match.”
The club raises the issues with NT leadership and the challenges it faces in garnering the support of the charter by the collective. This was witnessed by MVFC on match days with NT leaders being confronted and challenged by NT member/s.
The club explains the difficulties faced with media deconstructing club comments to support the journalist’s negative view. The club has chosen to not fuel bring further coverage. The SEN interview was conducted with the full knowledge that hosts would dominate the interview with flares due to the recent legislation passed of increased fines.
The police did not act in an overzealous manner. The incident was serious and caused by a NT member and VicPol was within their right to bring the situation to order. The club cannot dispute the actions of methods of the police however we can review the chain of events.
No group within the NT is targeted. Bans are issued based on individual behaviour that is deemed to be unacceptable by terms of admission and social standards or puts the code/club in disrepute. We are aware of individuals within groups only intention is to support the Club and we are not about to tarnish the groups by the actions of a few who do the wrong thing. The club understands the NT would like the Club to lobby the FFA for an appeal process for bans and commits to review this post season.
The club has asked the FFA to review the appeals process previously when the first ban was issued this season. The FFA have responded that as a non-Government agency there is no obligation to adhere to the rules of ‘procedural fairness’ and ‘natural justice’ and hence the FFA doesn’t consider requests to conduct an appeal for bans. FFA has adopted a zero tolerance policy to disruptive behaviour at its sanctioned events and advises that investigations conducted are determined to have sufficient compelling evidence before issuing bans. The club is willing to request the appeals process be revisited based on the working relationship between the NT and Club warrants a review.
The club was unable to publically refute the media targeting our supporter behaviour as the footage from the stadium corroborated the reports.
The only outstanding matter that the NT is entitled to question is the intervention model specified by the supporter charter. Considerable time has been invested into the supporter charter and it is abundantly clear that the greatest challenge is ensuring compliance by all stakeholders. The NT has not fully embraced the supporter charter either and therefore the NT continues to face issues arising on match days. Hence we believe that the appropriate time to raise the issues with the supporter charter would be post season. The club will fully support this review and we are welcoming representation of all groups within the Terrace.
The supporter charter enables the North Terrace and stakeholders to co-exist. A single breach by a stakeholder in two years does not warrant a protest coordinated to the scale that was warranted two years ago.
We are at the tail end of the 2012/13 campaign and should it be agreed that clarification of the incidents and concerning matters were explained satisfactorily, then the remaining home games should be a show of solidarity that has been unwavering this season. Our home ground advantage at AAMI Park has been breached once and this dominance should not be tampered with as the players are driven by a stadium in full voice and any deviation would affect our young players with doubt and hesitation.
The time and place for a civil and rational discussion is post season. The matters have not been shrugged off but parked until the emotions of the final games and finals series are past. The Terrace has come far in the last two seasons with the size of the NT doubling and the rapport the NT has built in this same period sets in motion the far-reaching possibilities of what the NT can achieve in the future, shoulder-to-shoulder, with the club.
NT has spearheaded active support for the A-League over the past 8 seasons and the growth of the NT and our ability to remain the biggest and best supporters of the best club in the country has to be the forefront of our decision making.
‘From The Stands’ has always maintained that we are a Fan based site, and a place where all fans can voice their opinions about the numerous issues surrounding football in Australia, and sometimes around the world. The recent active support measures announced by the FFA will no doubt once again bring out many fan opinions and emotions on the subject. If you want to voice your opinion using the ‘From The Stands’ site we welcome you opinions.Google+