Tony Popovic has issued a clear message to the flare-throwing minority who’ve tarnished the good name of Western Sydney Wanderers in the last week.
“If people want to throw flares, it’s illegal, they shouldn’t come to the game,” a blunt Popovic told reporters on Friday.
“We want [the fans] to keep supporting us with a passion but to understand flares are illegal and not allowed.”
Yesterday Wanderers escaped a points deduction and were fined $50,000 and given a suspended three (3) competition point deduction.
The sanction was handed down after FFA found some Wanderers fans took part in a pre-meditated and coordinated series of incidents.
These included the ignition of flares and detonators and the display of unauthorised banners at last Saturday’s match against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.
Popovic added he was “optimistic” it won’t get to the point where Wanderers are docked three points, potentially denting their Premiership hopes.
“We’re disappointed with the sanction but it’s one we have to accept,” added Popovic.
However, the coach stressed the bond the players and club have with their fans, who number around 18,000 members and who’ve added a passionate and vibrant support to the league since 2012.
“We have a special bond with our fans... and what we’ve built is phenomenal and it’s been fantastic for the league,” said Popovic.
“That bond won’t change,” he stressed.
“I’m a very proud head coach of this football club. That won’t change. Our bond won’t change.
“With our fans, that’ll only get stronger.
“If they want to support our team with a passion that we’ve seen, home and away, please come because, we love seeing you there.
“And I certainly love seeing them from the sidelines.”
Popovic however, bemoaned the fact that most of the press coverage post-match has been on the flares and not the dominating performance in a 1-1 draw against the reigning A-League champions last week.
Wandereres face Wellington Phoenix on Sunday afternoon at Wanderland
“We want them [the fans] there in big numbers on Sunday, loud and proud,” he added.
“Let’s get the focus on the great game of football and this great run we’re on.”