Melbourne Victory may be penalised for fans' flares

Australian A-League Premiers and Champions Melbourne Victory could be stripped of points for the upcoming season due to the misbehaviour if its fans. Football Federation Australia officials are furious that illegal flares lit during the club's recent friendly injured a security guard. Police said 12 flares were lit during Victory's pre-season warm-up against the semi-pro Victorian Premier League state champion, with one hurled from the stands clipping South Melbourne player Andrew Bourakis. Four people from the 7,500 crowd are expected to be charged on summons with assault and behaviour offences.

"There's a range of sanctions open to us," FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said. "Melbourne games aren't the only games where we've had situations with flares, but in terms of the number of flares that go off, there's substantially more in Melbourne than anywhere else. We've been successful at curbing incidents at other cities but there seems to be an element in Melbourne that haven't got the message, and don't seem to want to get the message, that this isn't going to be tolerated. They're doing their club and the game a disservice."

Sam Edmund of the Herald Sun reported that the incident is a major blow for Victory, which threatened life bans for fans caught with flares. Chief executive Geoff Miles said he was disappointed the actions of a few were halting the growth of the club and the game. "There's a real strong sense from our supporter groups that this sort of behaviour is not a part of Melbourne Victory. We believed that flares were probably a distant memory but last night showed there's still a few people who want to try that," he said.