First up, a disclosure, or more accurately, a declaration: I like general admission. Before I bought a club membership, I would buy GA tickets. My friends buy GA tickets so that we can sit together in the cheap seats at Docklands for A-League games.
The Herald-Sun recently reported a proposal to ban GA at A-League games, noting concerns about overcrowding. Claims of overcrowding at Melbourne Victory games are not new. It has been a part of the ongoing conflict between the North Terrace and Victory club management.
It would have been tempting to write off this article as a piece of dog whistling, but the Herald-Sun story related to the FFA end-of-season review, which involves police, stadium management, the league and the clubs. (As opposed to an end-of-season revue, where the FFA team – including David Gallop – put on a show filled with student humour and tired double entendres.)
This morning I spoke with Commander Rick Nugent, who is in charge of Melbourne’s North West Metro Region. He has responsibility for policing at sporting events at Docklands, the Rectangular Stadium and other major events venues such as Flemington (Victoria Racing Club). You can read what he had to say here.
There are a number of different issues here. One is the ongoing perception of football fan behaviour. Another is football clubs trying to control supporter groups that have grown organically. But when it comes to the FFA end-of-season review, the big question is about consultation.
There is no seat at the table for supporters. Are the clubs going to take up the cudgels on behalf of the supporters? In fairness to Victoria Police, what concern is it of the police what the atmosphere is like inside the stadium? What concern is it of the police how much tickets cost? These are not their problems.
The FFA and the A-League need to talk to the fans.
@TweetWhiteLine wonder why we have no troubles with security or police when we are meant to be 'behind the banana curtain'.
— (not) Brisbane Roar (@Brisbane_Roar) May 12, 2014
@TweetWhiteLine I sat on stairs at the San Siro once for Milan v Bayern in the Champs League. There were 45 people in my designated seat.
— Matthew Hall (@matthew_hall) May 12, 2014
@TweetWhiteLine Does it bother me? Yes. Does it surprise me? Not in the slightest.
— Nick (@axistilt) May 12, 2014