Controversial regulations slapped on A-League fans have been slammed as ‘unenforceable’ and detrimental to the league’s growth.
As of next season, new protocols will be in place which will see active support areas become ‘members only’ zones.
Grant Muir, of Sydney FC’s active support group The Cove, insists the regulations prove just how disconnected the FFA is from fans.
Muir told FourFourTwo: “It's clear that the new rules are ill-considered and unenforceable. They will achieve nothing positive.”
Football Federation Australia says protecting the unique atmosphere at A-League matches is the primary reason for the changes.
Fans across the country, however, have reacted angrily to the new measures.
Muir said: “To bring certainty and standards, the FFA should have done what was asked of (A-League boss) Damien DeBohun two years ago.
“That is, document what is and is not acceptable in active support areas so all active fans are clear on what is allowed and the consequences for breaking rules.
“For years active support has been a major selling point for both clubs and the FFA, featured in advertising and talked up.
“But the governing body never engages active fans as a partner. They talk at us, not to us. They enforce pointless rules that clubs, stadia and police do not support, and they do so without any kind of consultation.
“They have made it absolutely clear by their actions that they have nothing but contempt for active fans. Their actions are driven by ignorance and fear. They have no ongoing communication channels for fans, no fan liaison personnel, nothing.”
De Bohun believes fans have misunderstood the new protocols, and remains adamant they will benefit clubs and the league into the future.
“The rules are there so that fans can work more closely with the club” de Bohun said.
“We conduct an end of season review each year, and one of the things mentioned was the idea of mandatory memberships.
“The idea is that, if fans would like to participate in active support, they can have a go at it, and if they enjoy, they can end up getting a club membership.
“We have put in place ticketing measures to suit the needs of those who want to give active support a go.”
De Bohun said the implementation of mandatory memberships would benefit clubs greatly as active support becomes more popular.
“There will be greater interaction between club and fans,” he added.
“We understand the concerns of fans and we have looked at overseas models, the likes of the English Premier League and the Bundesliga, where active support plays an integral role, and we believe that this is the way forward.”
Supporter groups have openly condemned the FFA’s stance and Passion Is Not A Crime Australia has launched a petition opposing the regulations.
Muir also criticised the ‘family friendly’ push by the governing body, claiming active support, done right, is supposed to be intimidating.
“Every stadium in the A-League has a family area,” Muir said.
“It is neither necessary nor desirable to demand that the entire stadium be family friendly - no one segment of fandom is more or less important than any other.”
He added: “Active support growth tends to be organic, people on the sidelines, often kids or teens look at what we are doing and decide that it looks like great fun and come over to sample the atmosphere and try it out.
“That will no longer be possible - the FFA will stamp out any possibility of spontaneous participation.”
Meanwhile, Western Sydney Wanderers’ Red and Black Bloc has urged the club and new ownership to speak up and defend its fans.
“We will not stand for this,” a statement from the supporter group read.
Brisbane Roar’s The Den also vowed to protest unless the regulations were revoked and encouraged supporters to write to the club expressing their outrage.
“We are firmly committed to ensuring all Brisbane Roar supporters, regardless of membership, have access to our Home End,” the group’s official website stated.