Wanderers cop suspended points deduction

FFA has handed Western Sydney a suspended three-point A-League deduction over fan misbehaviour.
FFA has handed Western Sydney a suspended three-point A-League deduction over fan misbehaviour.

Western Sydney will play out this A-League season and the next in fear of being stripped of three competition points, again at the mercy of their highly charged fans.

In one sense, the Wanderers can count themselves lucky Football Federation Australia decided to stick with the suspended points penalty it had handed down in the past.

The governing body even opted against a fine this time, satisfied the club had taken the appropriate step of shutting down its active support area for Sunday's home match with Perth.

Once more, despite a year free of negative headlines, the Wanderers find themselves at risk of suffering on the field because two flares were illegally ignited at the Sydney derby, an action A-League chief Greg O'Rourke ruled had "crossed the line".

FFA on Friday found the Wanderers guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and, as it did in early 2016 for 12 months and again when it extended that sanction until the end of last season.

Again, a "serious incident" will activate the suspended penalty at any point until the end of the 2018-19 season.

Any loss of points would heavily impact on Josep Gombau's side, who sit in sixth but only four points clear of seventh-placed Brisbane and the eighth-placed Glory.

The tough decision by chief executive John Tsatsimas to close the Red and Black Bloc's (RBB) area for one match will only further hurt the club's fan base that, once the epitome of passion across all codes, has been declining since the forced temporary move away from Pirtek Stadium.

Tsatsimas said he was left with little choice, having delivered a final public warning last July to shut down the RBB should a "rogue element" cause any further "illegal and highly dangerous" incidents this season.

The RBB this week offered no contrition for the flares, issuing a statement attacking the A-League clubs and FFA and warning "the fans will not go silently".

The group's Facebook declaration "encouraging all fans across the league to support their teams in the way they see fit ... (and) take back ownership of this sport from the dictatorship" suggests Kenny Lowe's plea for fans to behave themselves on Sunday at Spotless Stadium and "stay within the laws" could fall on deaf ears.

In issuing the sentence, O'Rourke said the illegal use of flares had damaged the Australian game's brand of football, one for which he generally encouraged active support.

"However, there is a line and, last Sunday night, we saw that line crossed with the illegal use of flares and also anti-social behaviour from a very small minority," O'Rourke said.

"The images captured, and shared many times over, move from enhancing the club and football's brand to damaging it.

"This behaviour is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.

"We commend and support the action taken by the club and will continue to work with them to create a safe and enjoyable environment for all our fans and the image of the game."

The Wanderers have confirmed they will not appeal.

Australian Associated Press