Football Australia boss James Johnson has warned Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City of “quick and effective” punishment if there is crowd trouble in Saturday night’s derby at AAMI Park.
The teams this weekend meet for the first time since the shocking events of December’s derby at the same venue.
A section of Victory fans invaded the pitch after a flare they had thrown on to the ground towards Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover was flung back into the crowd by the keeper.
Glover, referee Alex King and a TV cameraman were assaulted, with the game being abandoned after 20 minutes.
The disgraceful scenes led to a host of supporters being banned – three for life from all football-related activity in Australia – and the Victory being hit with several sanctions, including $550,000 in fines, spectator restrictions at matches, and an automatic 10-point deduction for each instance of a “triggering event” until the end of the 2025-26 season.
FA chief executive officer Johnson praised the Victory for accepting their punishment and not appealing against it, accepting responsibility for the matter and that things “needed to change”.
However, any slip-ups this weekend at AAMI Park won’t be tolerated.
“I’m confident there won’t be any crowd problems but if there are, we’ll be ready and will respond quickly and effectively,” Johnson said.
“We (FA) are working closely with the APL on this.”
With the game being a Victory home match, extra security will be at AAMI Park compared to the amount that were at the venue in December, when the contest was a City home game.
Players’ union Professional Footballers Australia is confident that the safety of Glover and other players won’t again be put at risk.
“Ensuring the health and safety of our members at work is non-negotiable,” a PFA spokesman said.
“In the lead-up to the match, the PFA will continue to ensure that any concerns raised by the players are effectively addressed and all possible steps are taken.
“In January, Football Australia announced the establishment of multi-stakeholder task force to address risks to people’s safety at matches.
“While we are yet to receive additional information, the players expectation is that they will have an active role in the task force and that its output will be impactful.”
The Victory’s on-field form has been ordinary since the pitch invasion, with the Tony Popovic-coached side last on the ladder with nine losses from 15 matches.
In contrast, City is flying high at the top of the table, holding an eight-poiunt advantage over its nearest rivals and having a game in hand.
Story Credit: news.com.au