The A-League's governing body, Football Federation Australia, has charged both Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers with bringing the game into disrepute and ordered a suspended sentence of a three-point deduction on the season's final ladder. The ruling is subject to appeal and the clubs can avoid the penalty altogether if they meet guidelines related to improved fan behavior.
Punishment stems from a pitched battle waged on Bourke Street in Melbourne's Central Business District that was caught on video ahead of last Saturday's game between the Victory and the Wanderers at AAMI Park. Combined with flares and general rowdy behavior in the away supporters' bay, fan trouble was the biggest take away from a game that should have been remembered more for Gui Finkler's dramatic free kick equalizer.
FFA Chairman David Gallop explained the bold move by the federation in quotes provided by Fox Soccer Australia:
"Loss of points that have been won fairly on the pitch is a harsh penalty, but it's in equal measure to the enormous damage caused by the type anti-social behaviour seen in Melbourne last Saturday. The troublemakers are hurting the club they claim to support. They need to understand that the consequences of their reckless conduct will be felt on the A-League competition table if trouble persists.
"I have great sympathy for the overwhelming majority of fans who are sickened by the misconduct of a few, but it's time to make the consequences clear to everyone. We want a safe, enjoyable and family-friendly environment in the A-League and we won't tolerate bad behaviour.
"FFA can confirm that both clubs had previously received written warnings over the conduct of their fans and had been advised that the loss of competition points would be considered as an appropriate sanction if misconduct continued."
The two clubs have until January 7 to show cause why they should not receive the suspended punishment.