The Red And Black Bloc have issued a statement on social media slamming Western Sydney Wanderers management for treating the supporter base with a lack of respect and as a ‘liability’ following Sunday’s silent protest.
Wanderers drew an A-League season low crowd of 12,079, some 4,000 fewer than the club’s previous league fixture, when they were beaten 2-0 by Newcastle Jets at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.
The venue was eerily quiet, with the RBB holding a silent protest, following a club email sent to members after Wednesday’s AFC Champions League match against Ulsan Hyundai which was marred by several flares being let off.
The club's email to members was a response to the anti-social behavior, and said that as a result flags, fence banners and concession items would be banned in active supporter areas for upcoming matches.
The AFC confirmed to FourFourTwo it has opened an investigation into the incidents, with potential fines of up to $5,600 per flare.
The RBB statement insisted the silent protest had nothing to do with flare use, but rather the club email which it labelled as “divisive” and “poorly worded” and the latest in a lack of respect shown by the club to the supporter base.
“The club is intentionally trying to divide us, the fans, by pitting the active and non-active supporters against each other,” the statement said.
“This is a cheap publicity stunt to show that the club is doing something, and to satisfy the media and FFA alike. This is done by implying that the whole of the RBB is to blame for the events of Wednesday night, not a handful or a minority who engaged in such anti-social behaviour.
“Generalisations are being made, and the common principles of society are being ignored. This also contradicts Lyall Gorman’s continued assertions that the Wanderers are a community, because they are trying to divide this community through such statements.”
The latest developments may concern the FFA whose CEO David Gallop confirmed on Monday morning that they would monitor the situation as the club tries to deal with it.
“We celebrate the atmosphere at our grounds, but letting off flares, creating trouble is not what we want to see,” Gallop said. “We need to get that balance absolutely right.
“At this stage the club is dealing with it, but we obviously monitor those things carefully.”
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said he hadn’t noticed the silent protest and was concentrated on the game.
The RBB statement also revealed the silent protest wasn’t originally meant to last the full 90 minutes.
It claims the protest was meant to initially last only 20-25 minutes of the first half, when they’d unveil the “Stand United, Never Divided” banner. However, security staff confiscated the banner pre-game, despite the RBB claiming the club had approved its use.
“The club had confirmed they would not oppose the messages as long as they were neither offensive nor provocative,” the statement said. “These message banners were intended to show unity between the RBB and the supporters in the rest of the stadium.”
The RBB statement claimed a Memorandum of Understanding mentioned in the Member email, had never been agreed by the supporter base. It also stated a draft of the club's email to members had been sent to the RBB, but it hadn’t been given time to respond and suggest changes.
It also slammed the lack of appeals process for supporters facing bans and the harassment of RBB Members by security staff and the prohibition of fans using confetti.
The statement added: “Nobody is bigger than the club, but a mutual respect is required to maintain a united, sustainable and successful team and active supporter group."