Fan power! FFA to overhaul fan bans after late night showdown

Football Federation Australia last night finally agreed to overhaul their banning and appeals process after a five hour showdown with fans.

The FFA - headed up by CEO David Gallop - were locked in talks with representatives from all the major active supporter groups in the A-League in a bid to end the impasse that has plunged the sport into crisis.

And when Gallop finally emerged, he unveiled a major revamp of the controversial process that largely met many of the fans' demands.

Under the new system, fans will no longer be banned without notice and without a chance to defend themselves or, crucially, see the evidence against them.

In a major revision, Gallop pledged accused fans will now:

* Be given a notice of intention to ban

* Be able to see the evidence against them

* And if the ban goes ahead, be able to appeal to an independent tribunal.

The pledge by the FFA looks like it will finally end the fans' boycott of games that was sparked by an article naming and shaming 198 fans allegedly banned from every stadium in the country.

The FFA's slowness to react to the story, reluctance to show support for their fan base, and the apparently unjust system used to ban fans, unleashed a wave of protests from supporters across the country.

After walkouts from games failed to spark a change of heart from the FFA, active support last weekend staged boycotts at four of the five games, with an average crowd of just 8,000 at each match as a result.

The boycotts looked set to continue until last night's talks finally saw the FFA move from their uncompromising hardline on the appeals process.

The FFA also promised to re-examine the evidence against the 198 currently banned and where possible, show those fans the evidence that was used against them.

The move marks a massive change in heart from the governing body that only days ago privately ridiculed the idea of allowing fans the chance to see the evidence against them or appeal against bans.

“Our guiding objective is to amend procedures to enable FFA to provide any person facing a ban the opportunity to see and rebut material which is being relied on to form the view that they should be banned,” said Gallop, who appealed for an end to the boycott this weekend.

“We have made significant progress tonight in dealing with the grievances of the active fan groups. We want to see the terraces full again this weekend.”

Fan groups are tomorrow expected to make their own statement about the talks, and the FFA's revised policy, but it is understood the mood was positive among active support following the late night meeting.