Braiden Stokely, a five-year active member with City, was at the opposite end of AAMI Park when Victory fans invaded the pitch.
He believed Monday’s decision barring active members from games would not improve the game’s relationship with its supporters. Casual tickets into the City Terrace will be refunded and further sales to the area will be suspended.
“I don’t think these penalties will change behaviour, but rather aggravate the fans more,” Stokely said. “The last thing a sport wants is to turn the fans against them, but that’s what the A-League and Melbourne City seem to be doing.
“I can understand Victory’s sanctions because their fans stormed the pitch violently, but us City fans did nothing wrong, and sent our message the way that was planned, with a 20th-minute peaceful walkout.
“The very few people who took flares and threw them from our side, I feel, are not a representation of City Terrace at all.”
Stokely supported City’s zero-tolerance approach to flares, but he labelled the penalties “unfair”.
“I feel every decision the APL [Australian Professional Leagues] has made since the grand final decision is slowly killing the sport in Australia, the total opposite of what should be happening after the insane World Cup we just had,” he said.
“Yes, I think flares need to be dealt with, but banning your entire loyal active support is not the way to do it.”
Other City fans slammed the penalties on social media.
One fan, who posted on Twitter under the account “@toons888”, complained that as an active fan they were being punished even though they had not attended the derby. They said they would be cancelling their membership “as soon as someone answers the phone”.
Ryan Dunn, @thrillfreak7, said: “We’re boycotting City games anyway, so this makes no difference. CFG [City Football Group] and APL have betrayed supporters.”
Stokely said despite the membership bans, he would be buying a ticket to Tuesday night’s men’s game against Central Coast Mariners and would be in the stands at AAMI Park.
Meanwhile, an independent match review panel (MRP) has decided not to suspend City keeper Tom Glover for throwing two flares from the field during the derby, one of which landed in the stands.
The MRP, independent of Football Australia and the Australian Professional Leagues, only had power to act if the incident escaped the referee’s attention. As the referee had seen the incident and determined Glover’s actions were not intentional, as reported in the referee incident report, the MRP was satisfied the incident had not been missed by the referee.
Glover was injured in the violent derby pitch invasion, but City’s interim coach Rado Vidosic said he had overcome a concussion and trained fully ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Vidosic said he hoped to never see such ugly scenes again at an A-League match.
“There was like 20,000-plus supporters and only a very small number of supporters did what they did. I think a lot of supporters were shocked and not prepared for anything like that.
“We have received a lot of emails from our supporters, congratulating us and wishing us fast recovery … and can’t wait to watch us [on Tuesday] night.”