Melbourne Victory hit with record sanctions after ugly pitch invasion
Melbourne Victory FC has been fined $310,000 (AUS$ 450,000) and hit with a number of sanctions by Football Australia (FA) after the ugly scenes that forced its derby match against Melbourne City to be abandoned in December.
Fans had planned to protest the decision to move the next three A-Leagues Grand Finals to Sydney and chaotic scenes erupted in the 22nd minute of the match.
Flares were thrown and fireworks set off inside the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium with players having to run for safety.
Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover was left injured after being hit in the head with a trash can as fans invaded the pitch.
Glover received medical treatment and “likely” had a concussion, his team said, needing several stitches for a laceration to his face.
In addition to the fine, FA also slapped Melbourne Victory with a number of sporting sanctions, which it estimated to be worth an additional $68,900 (AUS$ 100,000).
The club will not be allowed to sell tickets in the stand where fans invaded the pitch from and it will not be allocated tickets for away matches for the rest of the season.
Victory also received a suspended 10-point deduction which can be “triggered for each instance of serious supporter misconduct during this season and the next three seasons.”
FA said it had already handed out bans – some for life – to 17 fans involved in the incident.
“The sanctions we have issued against Melbourne Victory are the heaviest in the A-League era,” Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said in a statement.
“These sanctions are reflective of our desire to remove this behaviour, and those that perpetuate it, from our game.”
Johnson added: “The field of play is sacred and the safety of our players and match officials is paramount.
“Those individuals that illegally entered the field of play, caused damage, and verbally and physically assaulted players and officials, crossed the line.”
Melbourne Victory had the right to appeal the decision but released a statement Tuesday saying it would “comply with all sanctions handed down.”
It said it was now “working with the relevant stakeholders to ensure its matches moving forward will be a safe environment for players, fans and everyone involved.”
The game will resume in April from the 22nd minute with Melbourne City winning 1-0.