Football Federation Australia has stood firm on its decision to ban a Melbourne City supporter group from unveiling a Saturday derby tifo believed to be the largest in A-League history.
City supporter group the Melburnians were told on Wednesday that the FFA and Victoria Police would not permit the 19m x 15m tifo due to safety concerns
Fans invested almost $5000 and nearly two weeks work into creating the pullover before before having the plug pulled three days out from the game.
It is understood a flare let off in the Melburnians terrace during the round three derby at Etihad Stadium, led to FFA concerns about the effect of a repeat act under a large tifo.
The Melburnians insisted they followed correct procedure in receiving approvals early, before being stunned by the last-minute decision.
After a social media post on Wednesday night, the supporter group were told by the FFA on Thursday that they could erect the tifo vertically with 15m poles.
One month of planning, over 100 litres of paint, $5000 in terrace funds, and 10 days straight of labour in a hot warehouse by hard working individuals who have donated their time to create something awesome - Melburnians Facebook page
That has left the group with a logistical nightmare, having to find such poles 48 hours out from the game. FFA indicated to Melbourne City and the Melburnians on Thursday it would consider its position but has since confirmed the ban.
A Melburnians spokesperson, who preferred to remain anonymous, expressed frustration over the process.
“We just don’t want to be made out to have done the wrong thing – we’ve jumped through hoops,” he told FourFourTwo.
“We’re sick of active support being used as a promotion tool for the game by the FFA and then with the exact same voice they turn around and do things like this which undermines it all.
“You’d think if the atmosphere created by the terraces and the active support is such an important part of the game then keeping those people happy would be paramount to anything else and it doesn’t feel like that.
“It feels like we’re bottom of the pile, we’re the rowdy bunch down the end and we’re sick of it and so are the other supporter groups. This whole thing is an example of the rubbish we have to put up with.”
The Melburnians unveiled a smaller-sized tifo earlier in the season at AAMI Park which was permitted as a pullover.
A statement from FFA read: “FFA, Melbourne City FC, Victorian Police and the venue applied this condition based on the various risk factors involved with a tifo of the proposed size and is consistent with the policy in regards to the use of tifos that is being applied across the Hyundai A-League.”
The statement continued: “FFA is committed to working with all stakeholders to help facilitate the unique atmosphere at Hyundai A-League matches.”
The Melburnians understand the FFA’s safety concerns, given a flare was let off in the away terrace - albeit outside the core group - and the additional numbers the fixture attracts.
However the spokesperson, who insisted the group had no issue with City management, said the Melburnians were frustrated by the FFA’s general stance.
“We’ve shown exemplary behaviour this year, yet we’re all painted with the same football hooligan brush, that we’re all going to rip flares, rip our seats out and start a riot – that’s not the case,” the spokesperson said.
“There’s a minority of fans in any sport that start rubbish.
“We understand the safety aspect but to tell us three days before the game after injecting almost $5000 and all this hard work and effort into a tifo is so disappointing.
“We had a pullover tifo a few weeks ago, so it’s obvious this rule hadn’t been vocalised to the supporter groups properly.
“If it’s a rule that there’s no pullovers, we’ll all be very disappointed and I’m sure we’ll all dispute that, but it needs to be put in writing, every single game, every single club.
“You can’t pick and choose and say, this derby is dangerous but it’s okay when Central Coast and Newcastle play. Either it’s a blanket rule or not at all.”
MAIN PHOTO: Brendan Head, melbournefootball.comcomments