The positions of Football Federation Australia’s leaders have “become untenable” according to Sydney FC's active fans group, The Cove, as the furious backlash to CEO David Gallop's failed response to the attacks on the game engulfs the A-League.
Hot on the heels of Western Sydney Wanderers’ Red and Black Bloc vowing to boycott Saturday's A-League home clash with Brisbane Roar, The Cove spokesman Grant Muir described Gallop’s first public utterances since the incendiary publishing of a list of 198 banned fans as "absolutely pathetic", adding "he doesn’t understand the issues".
With further boycotts of the forthcoming A-League round by acive fans groups now looming, Muir said supporters felt a sense of abandonment by the governing body in the wake of Gallop declining to defend the game against its myriad enemies, and his refusal to institute a clear and transparent appeals process for supporters who believe that they have been unfairly included on a list published 10 days ago by News Corp Australia.
Instead, Gallop said the process would only be “fine-tuned” while suggesting “community service” for some transgressors, and told fans “not too worry about the critics” over premediated attacks on the sport from sections of the media he was once close to in his former life as head of the National Rugby League.
He further antagonised the fans by saying "we've seen the energy around these issues. But that energy has got to be used positively".
The Cove articulated its response later in a statement on its Facebook page in which it pledged to desert its normal bays behind the goal for Friday's visit of Newcastle Jets to Allianz Stadium in a silent protest which will likely see those of its members who show up disperse elsewere in the ground.
Muir condemned Gallop, A-League chief Damien De Bohun and new chairman Steven Lowy over a “total disconnect from reality”.
“I think the position of David Gallop is utterly untenable now, and the same goes for Damien De Bohun and Steven Lowy also,” Muir said.
“Lowy’s complete silence is unforgivable … apparently he says it’s not a chairman’s issue.
“If the biggest crisis the A-League has faced isn’t an issue, what is? After listening to David Gallop today, his attitude and his point blank refusal to give an inch on really important subjects is driving even the most moderate supporters groups to far more direct action.
“Each should decide how they express how they feel, and we certainly will in response to David Gallop’s complete lack of comprehension of what the issues are, as well as his absolute refusal to even consider why there's so much anger over the appeals process.”
Muir and his group met with FFA representatives last week, in the first of scheduled meetings with the SCG Trust, who administer Allianz Stadium, and the NSW Police.
Muir said the statements from De Bohun, and now Gallop’s address to the game’s stakeholders, had "contradicted everything we were told".
"It's all a bit a lot of garbage. They said one thing, Damien De Bohun another and David Gallop something else. There’s been a complete lack of honesty," he said.
“Gallop would clearly rather protect his personal relationships (outside football) than stick up for the sport he is supposed to represent.”
Muir fears the collateral damage to a code hunting for an improved broadcast deal and in need of attracting a greater support base, rather than isolating its existing core constituents, will now spiral.
The Cove met with the SCG Trust on Tuesday amid concerns that somebody from within the Trust leaked the list of banned supporters, and discussions with the NSW Police are scheduled on Wednesday.
Muir said the Trust was “100 per cent adamant” that the leaked list, the publication of which has attracted the interest of two privacy watchdogs, did not come from within the Trust, and they "welcome any investigation”.
“We are still talking with people but with the FFA so intransigent it’s hard to see how it will achieve anything," Muir said.
"If your own governing body won’t stand up for you, why would anybody else? There’s been a massive uptake in people’s anger and the unwillingness to accept the FFA’s stance.
“They have completely misread the situation, and simply do not understand football fans.”
Asked who would be better equipped to run the sport than the current FFA top brass, Muir replied: “Right now anything would better, even anarchy in the traditional sense would be better than the garbage we have now.
“The key attribute of whoever is going to make this game reach its potential in this country is that they have to love the sport with their heart and soul.
“Those soulless bean-counters at FFA do not love this game … and every time they waggle their lips and say they do, they are lying. Nobody who loved the game would do what they have done.”