Football Australia suspends ticket sales, imposes stadium restrictions after Melbourne derby

AAMI Park in Melbourne, Australia

Featured image credit: Storm machine/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Football Australia has banned Melbourne Victory from selling tickets, and has imposed stadium restrictions, amid a strong set of sanctions imposed in the wake of the violent scenes that marred the weekend’s A-League derby match against Melbourne City.

As part of the governing body’s ongoing investigation into the events that unfolded during the match at AAMI Park on Saturday, Football Australia has today (Friday) confirmed that a number of sanctions are being imposed on the Victory for their continued participation in the men’s A-League competition whilst the Show Cause process continues.

Football Australia said it deemed the measures, which will run until January 15, necessary to give “immediate confidence” to fans and participants in this interim period. Football Australia is still receiving related information on the case, which drew headlines across the world, from Victoria Police, stadium operations, and security providers.

However, in the meantime the following sanctions have been imposed:

Melbourne Victory’s Round Nine away match on December 26 v Western United at AAMI Park

  • Only valid members of Western United, and supporters of Western United whom were in receipt of a ticket when ticket sales ceased at 11am AEDT on December 23 will be permitted to enter the venue;
  • The away active bays will be closed and the APL (Australian Professional Leagues) will ensure away active bays are cordoned off and tarps are applied to section/s of the venue that would otherwise have been allocated to Melbourne Victory’s Active Bay.

Melbourne Victory’s Round 11 home match on January 6 v Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park

  • No daily tickets are to be sold and only valid club members can attend;
  • Home and away active bays will be closed and will be cordoned off and tarps applied to at least the first four rows of seating behind the goal line at each end of the venue.

Melbourne Victory FC’s interstate away matches (Round 10: December 31 v Central Coast Mariners and Round 12: January 14 v Adelaide United)

  • The away active bays will be closed and the APL will ensure away active bays are cordoned off and tarps are applied to section/s of the venue that would otherwise have been allocated to ‘Away Active Supporters’;
  • Only members and supporters of the home team will be permitted to enter the venue;
  • Melbourne Victory must use its best endeavours to discourage the attendance of all supporters of the club, including messaging that the venue will be restricted to supporters of the home team only.

Football Australia yesterday issued a further eight bans to fans as part of its ongoing investigation into the pitch invasion during last weekend’s Melbourne derby which led to a player, the referee, two security guards and a cameraman being injured.

Three men were initially charged after the incident during the match at AAMI Park. The match was abandoned after 22 minutes with City, the home side, 1-0 up after Victory fans entered the field of play and assaulted home goalkeeper Tom Glover.

Footage of the pitch invasion showed Glover being hit by a metal bucket that was allegedly thrown by a Victory supporter. He suffered a concussion and severe lacerations to the face.

Supporters had been protesting during the game to show their disapproval at the decision to take the A-League grand finals to Sydney from 2023.

The move was met with opposition from fans, with Victory supporters group Original Style Melbourne urging a stadium walkout prior to Saturday’s derby match. The walkout had been planned for the 20-minute mark but the situation escalated after flares were thrown on to the pitch.

Football Australia today said it also reviewing the conduct of some Melbourne City supporters. In the meantime, for City home matches, Football Australia has also directed the APL to cordon off the home and away active bays until otherwise advised.

Victoria Police announced today that currently 29 people have been arrested in total as part of Operation Astute. Police have now identified 36 people in total from the incident and are continuing to make enquiries.

Football Australia CEO, James Johnson, said: “These measures are an essential step for Football Australia, as it considers further sporting and financial sanctions that may apply to Melbourne Victory in the show cause determination process.

“Football Australia does not wish to penalise football fans during this time; however, our priority is to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone within the venue on match days and that any unacceptable behaviour by spectators are not repeated at any football match or event ever again. We believe these measures will achieve this.”

Melbourne Victory said it will comply with the sanctions handed down and is working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure its games moving forward will be a “safe environment for players, fans and everyone involved”.