Do legal pyrotechnics mean the FFA is now going to listen to fans?

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    What a coincidence that after a FIFA/AFC delegation pays Australia a visit, the FFA suddenly decides it might be an opportune time to listen to fans.

    Does the stunning announcement that Football Federation Australia will work with active supporter groups to permit ‘safe smoke’ devices inside A-League grounds next season mean the game’s governing body has decided to no longer treat fans with contempt?

    And is this the craziest idea we’ve heard all season?

    Firstly, the thought of FFA somehow legislating the use of quasi-incendiary devices inside A-League grounds next season is so funny you can’t help but think it’s a joke.

    Secondly – and more importantly – does this mean FFA is ready to call a truce in its long-standing war against fans in a furtive attempt to entice back the active supporters who deserted the terraces long ago?

    And if FFA has suddenly decided to listen to stakeholders rather than steadfastly ignoring them, can I just say this?

    Trying to make the A-League’s match-going experience the same as the NRL and AFL has done nothing but alienate football fans who know exactly what a passionate atmosphere is supposed to look and sound like.

    It’s such a simple point to make – yet it’s taken the FFA some thirteen-and-a-half seasons to come to this exceedingly obvious conclusion.

    And now that FFA has decided things aren’t going so swimmingly – according to Mediaweek, Saturday night’s clash between Western Sydney and Wellington Phoenix drew just 23,000 viewers to Fox Sports – does this mean they’ll be listening to other suggestions as well?

    Can we scrap the salary cap? Or at the very least, find a way to raise it so that clubs aren’t punished every time they happen to unearth a decent player deserving of a contract extension?

    And can we do something about this stupid scheduling as well?

    Split rounds might be a necessary evil – and it’s worth remembering our AFC Champions League representatives have lobbied hard for them in the past – but did both of this weekend’s fixtures really need to be played on Saturday night?

    Know what TV viewers looking for a sport fix watched on Friday night and Sunday afternoon? The NRL.

    Still, having at first tried exploiting, ignoring, banning and then ignoring fans again, it’s nice to see FFA be open-minded enough to at least try something new next season – even if it’s only because FIFA and the AFC are watching.

    Because if all you do is demand that your fan-base pays more and more for a product they’re not happy with, what you end up with is a situation like West Ham United.

    Is anyone surprised that a handful of Hammers supporters invaded the pitch in their dismal 3-0 defeat to Burnley on Saturday night?

    The move to London Stadium has been a disaster – even if co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold point to bigger crowds as the logic for leaving Upton Park – and the chaos that transpired in Stratford on Saturday was symptomatic of the disconnect between football clubs and fans around the world these days.

    Despite disturbances at practically every single game they’ve played at the unloved venue, security personnel were bewildered by the sight of disgruntled West Ham fans streaming on to the pitch – leaving enraged Hammers skipper Mark Noble to take matters into his own hands.

    Then, with hundreds of fans massed in front of their directors’ box aiming a cacophony of insults at Gold, Sullivan and Karren Brady, West Ham’s directors were eventually escorted by police out of the venue for their own safety.

    The look on their faces said it all – having moved away from the Boleyn Ground against many fans’ wishes, displaced season ticket holders and banned protest marches, the hapless Hammers trio then seemed genuinely surprised that not everyone had bought into their dystopian vision of football.

    It’s a nightmare FFA needs to avoid.

    Supporters have gone missing this season. Perhaps we can smoke them out.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (104)

    • March 12th 2018 @ 6:40am
      lesterlike said | March 12th 2018 @ 6:40am | ! Report

      Even if fans have been calling for this for years, we also know the FFA never do anything without having an ulterior motive.

      To me, sanctioned pyro is a ploy from the FFA to control “active” fans and get them back into their controlled designated areas instead of moving to GA only to use it as “privilege” that can be withdrawn, like what they do with banners and flags.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 10:25pm
        Tokenism said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:25pm | ! Report

        Don’t get the risistence to our soccer culture of letting off flares? It is our game, it helps create that war like atmosphere without it, the game is pretty dull. The people who don’t follow the sport are the only folks who like to use flares as the excuse to mock the game.

        They are generally safe too, or they would not be allowed on boats now would they!?

        • March 13th 2018 @ 8:15am
          reuster75 said | March 13th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

          It’s because flares are illegal in Australia (with maritime use being exempt) so the FFA have to act as they can’t ignore the law.

        • March 13th 2018 @ 11:05am
          Kris said | March 13th 2018 @ 11:05am | ! Report

          On a boat you fire a flare out onto a big oceany thing without people in it, unlike a crowded grandstand with people everywhere.

          Even if they were legal they are banned by the Asian Football Federation of which we are a member.

    • Roar Rookie

      March 12th 2018 @ 7:06am
      Waz said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      We haven’t had one piece of official confirmation that this is true of course, just the original news article that has now been regurgitated so many times you’d think the ffa was fully behind it. But are they?

      And we’ve been here many times before, a popular news item allowed to run for months only for the ffa to quietly put it down (we were “misquoted” is the popular get-out clause) so we need to wait

      It’s not the single answer of course – they need to reverse some of the draconian restrictions placed on active areas as well. Hopefully this is a start

      • March 12th 2018 @ 10:19am
        AGO74 said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        this article includes quotes from the head of the A-League saying they wish to explore it. Now exploring it and doing it are two different things but its a start.

        https://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/ffa-to-supply-a-league-active-supporter-groups-with-legal-pyrotechnics-20180309-p4z3o3.html

        • Roar Rookie

          March 12th 2018 @ 10:24am
          Waz said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          The article does, but we’ve had that before (the usual get out is “I was mis-quoted”) so until the ffa announce such an investigation I’m highly sceptical.

          • Columnist

            March 12th 2018 @ 1:03pm
            Mike Tuckerman said | March 12th 2018 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

            Until such time that we hear FFA is willing to grant A-League clubs more autonomy, that expansion is ‘definitely’ on the cards and that banned supporters have legal recourse to appeal their bans, I’m happy to give them the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2018 @ 6:33pm
        Griffo said | March 12th 2018 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

        It wouldn’t t surprise me Waz that we’ll see this on Media Watch in a few weeks from a story based in the US that got traction in Australia.

        I can’t remember seeing the ‘US article’ either.

        On the other hand if it turns out to be true and works, great.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:40am
      Fadida said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

      Maybe FFA are giving fans what they want; pyrotechnics when someone has a shot, KFC bucket hats in club colours, zooper goals?

    • March 12th 2018 @ 7:52am
      RBBAnonymous said | March 12th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      It’s all a ruse. Nothing what the FFA says these days can be believed.

      • March 12th 2018 @ 10:03am
        Kangajets said | March 12th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        I tend to agree with you

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2018 @ 3:20pm
        Kaks said | March 13th 2018 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

        Exactly.

        If history is anything to go by, this is the FFA’s way of trying to show like they are listening to fans until all the tension dissipates and they can then do nothing.

      • Roar Guru

        March 21st 2018 @ 12:22am
        NUFCMVFC said | March 21st 2018 @ 12:22am | ! Report

        Agree,

        Though wouldnrt say it’s just a case of “these days”, it’s pretty much always been the case

        Big test is if they listen when things are “going well” instead of getting full of hubris and carry on about zero tolerance and family friendly to a few people getting over-excited

        Regardless of media coverage they never really clicked that the real measure was whether the attendance was increasing and attendance rate of members was high, that’s how you tell if the family/passive segments of the crowd were bothered/impacted by active fans behaviour

    • Roar Rookie

      March 12th 2018 @ 8:05am
      Stevo said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      It’s like lurching from one self made crisis to another. There is no doubt that the FFA has manufacturered problems for its self by being obstinate, unfeeling, unwilling to engage until the writing is clearly in the wall. I honestly couldn’t give a toss about this latest olive branch because FFA HQ has done enough damage to be removed. Just imagine the pressure that the CEO and the management team of a company would be under if they were overseeing poor company performance. But hey, not our bright sparks, Gallop gets his contract renewed so he can stand by Lowy while they continue to fight the good fight and rage against stakeholders. Out.

    • March 12th 2018 @ 8:19am
      Nick Symonds said | March 12th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Safe standing? – Check

      Safe smoke? – Check

      Promotion / Relegation? – We’ll get back to you…

      This article makes interesting reading on the subject –

      http://footballtoday.news/features/a-longer-short-history-of-promotion-and-relegation-in-australian-football

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