A-League: Banned fans must prove their innocence

Football fans have been heard and a formal appeal process to stadium bans will be implemented immediately, said A-League boss Damien de Bohun. 

But de Bohun made it clear the onus would remain on fans to prove their innocence.

Speaking on Fox Sports Shootout after a round of walk-outs by fans, De Bohun went one-on-one with former Socceroo and outspoken critic of unfair stadium bans Mark Bosnich.

Under a formal appeal process banned fans will need to take it up with "their club, we will review that with them and the club and will overturn that ban if the evidence proves that in fact they didn’t do it," de Bohun said.

"I’m a football guy like everyone on the panel there and it has been a tough week but I have been incredibly heartened by the way football has united and I have no doubt whatsoever that football will be stronger for what’s taken place this week."

It is the closest the FFA has come to admitting there was no appeal process in place for fans since the issue erupted over the naming and shaming of banned supporters.

He added: "We love the fans make no mistake about that. I think there’s been some commentary about whether we’ve been silent this week.

"The reality is this is a complex issue – one we’ve been working through.

"We’ve been doing a lot of work in the background including meeting with some of the active fan groups this week and that offer is there for all the clubs and all the fans for us to meet with them and continue to work on that.

"In terms of having a process the fans can partake in, the reality is we go through a very careful process with banning. We’re talking about some really serious situations…"

But Bosnich said innocent fans were being subjected to an unfair process.

"Damien…we’re talking about people who are innocent and have got no right to appeal," Bosnich said.

"Can’t you see from the thousands walking out that this has gone beyond serious?"

De Bohun replied: "If there are innocent people, as you’re articulating, if there are people quite clear they did not do what they are purported to have done that they can bring that evidence to their club … we will, if it’s proven, overturn that ban.

"This is a significant step, we are formalising a process, we’ll make sure that’s in place."

He said the process would continue to be refined but was in place "as of today".

De Bohun said Football Federation Australia was "incredibly disappointed" that the names of 198 banned A-League fans were leaked to News Ltd and they would continue to track down the perpetrator.

He also conceded that the A-League was struggling. Crowd numbers are almost 100,000 down on the same time last year.

He said a new marketing plan was being developed for the rest of the season and new initiatives would be launched in January to re-engage with young fans.

"We’re very clear that things aren’t exactly where we want them tp be right now but we also know that a fantastic foundation has been built for the future of the game," De Bohun said.

He also took up an offer to march with Bosnich and fans when the Wanderers host Melbourne Victory at Pirtek Stadium.

"I will definitely take up that offer Mark. I’d be privileged to join you on that march," he said.

"It would be great to see all fans walking to the grounds arm in arm. (Recent events) have without question unified football and given a sense of how strong we really are."