[quote_center]’If I was the Villa CEO Tom Fox, I would appeal against the fine amount.'[/quote_center]
The FA have found it fit in their wisdom to fine Aston Villa £200,000 for the pitch celebrations that occurred during the FA Cup Quarter-final fixture versus West Bromwich Albion.
That’s around 10 times the amount logic would dictate they would fine should be, based on previous precedents in fines for similar incidents; notably the Birmingham City pitch invasion in the League Cup quarter-final vs Villa in 2011. The events after that game were labelled by the then Blues boss Alex McLeish as a return to the ‘dark ages’. Fans at that game described it as a toxic atmosphere between fans, while events at Villa Park were celebratory in comparison.
In short, if I was the Villa CEO, Tom Fox, I would appeal against the fine amount.
On face-value it seems that the irresponsible sensationalism the BBC media were guilty of (and triggered) has influenced the FA on their decision.
There have been around a dozen pitch celebrations at other clubs since events at Villa Park and the fans involved in them have been celebrated and described in the media as joyous. In fact, the hypocrisy witnessed in the media reporting of these later pitch celebrations compared to coverage of Villa Park’s celebrations has been startling (especially from the BBC).
MOMS did an analysis of why the pre-final whistle on-pitch intrusions happened and they were nothing more than the ‘they think it’s all over’ variety. Yes, as that study showed, the stadium security and utilisation of stewards was lacking, but to the degree of £200,000? Hardly.
Also, lets not forget it was FA wisdom that decreed a later 5.30pm weekend kick-off was a good idea. They obviously valued TV money over stadium safety.
Another thing that is unacceptable is the lack of explanation and transparency offered to supporters and the media on the FA’s ruling. This is their statement in full from their website:
Aston Villa fined and warned over spectator misconduct
Aston Villa have been fined £200,000 after admitting spectator misconduct in relation to their FA Cup Sixth Round tie against West Bromwich Albion on 7 March 2015.
The club was charged for failing to ensure that no spectators or unauthorised persons were permitted to encroach onto the pitch area whilst attending the game at Villa Park.
Following the Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, Aston Villa were also severely warned as to the club’s future conduct.
And that’s it.
‘Spectator misconduct’? Please elaborate FA. If it’s solely that ‘spectators or unauthorised persons were permitted to encroach onto the pitch area,’ then what about the numerous other pitch invasions that happen at the end of the season, when team’s fans celebrated titles, promotions, play-off victories, trips to Wembley and cup wins?
If it’s so wrong, then why are the media sending out mixed messages? They seem to celebrate them must of the time, or their used to advertise supporter passion to sell the game. Why has the pitch celebration – a long-time tradition in football – suddenly been demonised?
Also, who is the FA judging panel that came to the conclusion that £200,000 is a fitting punishment? Transparency on their credentials would be welcome.
Supporters celebrating on the pitch…is that really a crime as bad as the ones the FA frequently perpetuate?
What about the FA Cup Final ticket allocations? 25,000 to each team! 17,000 to the football family can be excused, but what about the huge amount of corporate complementaries that are issued out? Most companies associated with the FA get given 25 pairs of tickets. A rumour – on good authority – suggests 1000 tickets for the final were given to City bankers in London. I’m sure the thousands of Arsenal season ticket holders who couldn’t get tickets will be pleased with that.
What about the exuberant prices of the FA final tickets (almost double the cost to the semi-final)?
What about the almost criminal pricing of drinks and food within the stadium? Such is the FA’s greed, they are blind to the fact that such pricing causes most of their crowd problems on match days with last-minute arrivals (due to drinking in cheaper bars), binge drinking before games (to avoid Wembley prices) and the bottle necking of supporters arriving late.
Who’s going to hold the FA responsible for their mis-management? Who’s going to fine them?
In short, the simplistic message the FA is sending out with their inconsistency on the pitch celebration issue is: Villa fans – bad, all other fans – ok.
Remember when the FA inconvenienced supporters by holding back releasing the FA semi-final dates due mainly to sorting out Television rights issues? We called the FA and encouraged fans too, to tell them of the inconvenience they were unfairly causing supporters who had arrangements to make. Enough fans called to get a result, as they announced the times and dates of the semi-finals, the very next day!
Well, if you want to know why is this 200k fine is 10 times the amount of previous fines issued to other clubs and want to know why it seems ok for other fans to celebrate on the pitch? Give the FA a call and ask them. It’s a free phone number:
The FA – 0800 169 1863 (select option ‘3’)
Use your voice, or else they’ll just carry on getting away with it.
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