The Western Sydney Wanderers and some of its most ardent supporters are on a collision course after the Red and Black Bloc (RBB) issued a stunning statement this evening following a silent protest yesterday.
Angry over a range of issues, a large number of RBB members refused to attend yesterday’s game against Newcastle at Pirtek Stadium. Others that attended remained relatively silent, meaning that for the first time since the club entered the competition in 2012, Pirtek Stadium was eerily quiet during a Wanderers home game.
It followed a drama-charged night last Wednesday when flares were let off during the Wanderers’ ACL match with Ulsan Hyundai, resulting in the club potentially facing tens of thousands of dollars worth of fines.
The Wanderers acted swiftly, announcing formal investigations and the banning of flags, fence banners and other items.
“Football Federation Australia and Police are conducting a detailed formal investigation and review of all available evidence ahead of initiating a series of charges and legal and venue related sanctions,” the club said.
“The investigation will aim to identify the perpetrators and ensure that the maximum possible sanctions (Criminal and Civil) are invoked with a view to the eradication of this anti-social behaviour from our game and the subsequent upholding of community standards to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all who attend matches at Pirtek Stadium.
“Effective immediately will be the banning of flags, fence banners and concession items that are directly connected to the three supporter groups who occupied the area in which the disturbances of Wednesday night emanated.”
As confusion over the statement gained momentum, senior members of the RBB opted to conduct the silent protest yesterday.
In a statement released tonight following a wave of criticism over the protest, the RBB took aim at the club and the statement sent to members late last week. The statement incredibly declared that the club was “intentionally” trying to divide the supporters.
“The tone of the email was divisive, and generalising in its condemnation of the RBB as a whole. Not to mention poorly worded, making members come to differing conclusions. The club is intentionally trying to divide us, the fans, by pitting the active and non-active supporters against each other. This is a cheap publicity stunt to show that the club is doing something, and to satisfy the media and FFA alike,” the statement said.
“This is done by implying that the whole of the RBB is to blame for the events of Wednesday night, not a handful or a minority who engaged in such anti-social behaviour. The club also does not make mention of the fact that the RBB bays on Wednesday night were general admission tickets, not only ticketed members. Generalisations are being made, and the common principles of society are being ignored. This also contradicts Lyall Gorman’s continued assertions that the Wanderers are a community, because they are trying to divide this community through such statements.”
The statement goes on to make a range of accusations including against security and police.
“Recognition not acclaim must be given to all, including non-active supporters, as we are all part of the match day experience,” the statement said.
“This is all done for no financial gain, but for the passion and pride the RBB has for the team. Unlike the club, the team and supporters are our interest, not the bottom line.
“The unity of our fans, the passionate support and the success of our team are our priority. See you at the derby, where it will be business as usual with the takeover of Allianz Stadium.”