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A-League bosses prepared to review fan bans as part of drive to boost active supporter groups
Packed houses and a reignited atmosphere are the focus of A-League bosses as the clubs race to ensure their first season of independence turns the tide of falling crowds and viewers.
A suite of measures to re-engage the active supporter groups who energised the A-League in the Wanderers’ early years will unfold in coming weeks — including a willingness to review the bans of a handful of those supporters hit with multiple-year penalties but who have sought a “second chance”.
With the draw for the new season finally released, barely two months before it kicks off, club owners have taken control of the competition’s management and strategy even before the legal separation from Football Federation Australia is complete.
Alongside key games being scheduled for smaller venues to drive atmosphere at games, attracting greater numbers in active groups including the Red and Black Bloc and The Cove is seen as essential to garnering wider interest in the competition.
Discussions over fan behaviour with police at assistant commissioner level have been described as productive, and a conference of supporter marshals from all the major fans groups will be held later this month to find common ground.
It’s understood that a small number of the fans given lengthy bans from all A-League games — all of whom have served substantial proportions of what are often five and 10-year penalties — could have the opportunity to petition for the suspensions to be lifted effectively on probation, a process that is said to have received conditional support from police and stadiums.
The measures are part of a broad swath of activity designed to reverse several years of decline in crowd and TV numbers, with the release of the fixture list the first concrete symbol of the league’s independence.