Football Australia has hit Melbourne Victory with a record $550,000 in sanctions for bringing the game into disrepute following the riotous scenes when fans stormed the pitch during the derby with Melbourne City last December.
The sanctions total $550,000, comprising $450,000 in fines and damages and $100,000 in lost revenue for an incident FA boss James Johnson was “the worst in the history of our game”.
Victory fans invaded the pitch after City goalkeeper Tom Glover threw a flare towards them, and he was hit in the head with a bucket thrown by a fan who was one of 17 supporters subsequently banned, some for life.
Along with the financial penalty, the FFA also hit Victory with a raft of bans on fans, where they can sit, and no concessions for active fans to bring “ megaphones, drums, and flags”.
“The sanctions we have issued against Melbourne Victory are the heaviest in the A-League era,” Johnson said.
“These sanctions are reflective of our desire to remove this behaviour and those that perpetuate it, from our game.
“They also form part of a broader response to this incident which has seen 17 bans issued against individuals to date, including three lifetime bans, and preliminary sanctions against Melbourne Victory.”
Victory could lose up to $100,000 in revenue from a ban on fans which will see seating provided only for registered club members for the remainder of the 2022-23 season and finals series.
Also, no specifically allocated club supporter seating will be provided at the club’s away games for the remainder of the season and 2022-23.
Victory also has been handed a suspended 10-point deduction that may be triggered for “each instance of serious supporter misconduct during this season and the next three seasons”.
“Football Australia has found that the Melbourne Victory Football Club, through the inexcusable conduct of many individuals who entered the field of play … has committed a serious breach of our rules and regulations,” FFA boss James Johnson said.
“The field of play is sacred and the safety of our players and match officials is paramount. Those individuals that illegally entered the field of play, caused damage and verbally and physically assaulted players and officials crossed the line.
“We have worked closely with Victoria Police to identify these individuals and will continue to do so to ensure those that display anti-social and criminal behaviour at football events are not involved in our game in any way.
“I can sympathise with the vast majority of fans and the broader football community who were sickened and hurt by the actions of those individuals.
“The sanctions imposed on Melbourne Victory are a necessary step to ensure we create an environment where we place football first and our community can enjoy matches.”
The match, which was abandoned after 22 minutes, will be replayed in April 2023 from the 22nd minute, with the 1-0 scoreline in City’s favour standing.
Victory has seven business days to appeal Football Australia’s determination should the club elect to do so.
THE FULL LIST OF SANCTIONS FOR MELBOURNE VICTORY
– $450,000 in financial penalties split between:
A direction to the Club to reimburse Melbourne City FC (home team) up to $150,000 in damages caused to the venue and equipment by the pitch invasion and other unruly supporter conduct;
A fine payable to Football Australia of $150,000;
A suspended fine of $100,000 if another pitch invasion by the Club supporters occurs this season and three subsequent seasons ending 2025-26; and
– A direction to the Club to pay a minimum of $50,000 towards the cost of the replay of the abandoned game in April 2023.
– Melbourne Victory FC must not sell any match day tickets in the areas ordinarily designated within their home venue at AAMI Park a active supporter bays for the remainder of the 2022-23 A-League season – including any A-League Men Finals.
– The first three rows of seats behind the goal at both the North End and South End, or equivalent if a home game is not played at AAMI Park, to be tarped off at all Club home games for the remainder of the 2022-23 A-League season, including any A-League Men Finals.
– In addition, rows A – J of Bay 38 at the North End, or equivalent if a home game is not played at AAMI Park, will remain empty at all Club home games for the remainder of the 2022-23 A-League Men season, including any A-League Men Finals.
– Any tickets already sold in these areas will be cancelled. Affected ticket holders to re-allocated seating by the Club to other parts of the venue in groups of up to four (4) people or refunded. Direct families of up to six (6) will be permitted to be seated together.
– No allocated Club supporter seating at away games. Affected ticket holders need to contact the Club to be re-allocated seating in other parts of the venue in groups of up to four (4) people or be refunded. Direct families of up to six (6) will be permitted to be seated together.
– No active fan concessions for megaphones, drums, and flags for the remainder of the 2022-23 A-League Men season.
– An automatic 10-point deduction for each instance of a triggering event during this season and the next three seasons, ending at the conclusion of the 2025-26 A-League Men season. A triggering event is if a match is suspended due to Club supporter conduct, the assault of coaches, players, match officials or pitch invasion by the Club’s supporters.