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Western Sydney Wanderers CEO: We won’t ‘be hijacked or held to ransom’

Western Sydney Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas has reacted to a statement by the Red and Black Bloc supporter group that the lighting of flares at games was a matter of personal choice by declaring that the club "won't be hijacked or held to ransom".

"There are no more words to say about it, either you comply by the laws of this country and the venue terms and conditions or you don't". -Western Sydney Wanderers FC CEO John Tsatsimas's reaction to the Red and Black Bloc's statement.

The RBB held an information night for members on Wednesday and posted a report of the meeting on its official Facebook page on Thursday.

Referring to the use of flares, the statement read: "Many opinions were heard from members in attendance on this issue. It was concluded that the RBB does not encourage anyone to participate in any prohibited activity, and those who have, have done so at their own risk. The consequences are known to all. The RBB supports the notion of personal choice as per our representation at the senate hearing late last year."

Asked for his reaction to the statement, Tsatsimas told The World Game: "There is no choice at the Wanderers on this issue. Either you comply and be law-abiding and act in an orderly manner or you're out. That's it, there's no choice, there's no negotiation.

"The club won't be hijacked or held to ransom or exploited. It just doesn't make sense and at the end of the day I've given up trying to understand it. It's ridiculous."

Tsatsimas said it would obviously be preferred if the RBB actually condemned the use of flares, but that he couldn't force them to do that and that the only option left for the club was to enforce regulations at games.

"I think that's probably what they should be doing, but at the end of the day, you know, if they don't do it, they don't do it," he said. "I can't really . . . There are no more words to say about it, either you comply by the laws of this country and the venue terms and conditions or you don't.

"The rules will be enforced. There's no negotiation, there's not a space where it's negotiable, there's not a space on this issue where you've got a choice with us at the Wanderers, or with legislation, or what we expect of people's behaviour.

"We're happy to work collaboratively, but if that doesn't work then we move on."

Football Federation Australia announced on Thursday that it had fined the Wanderers club $50,000 for the incident at Etihad Stadium last Saturday, when flares were lit and detonators set off during the game between Wanderers and Melbourne Victory.

FFA also issued a suspended penalty of three competition points which can be applied at any time over the next 12 months if there is a similar incident.

Wanderers play their next game at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday, against Wellington Phoenix.

The RBB statement also said that, according to a "general consensus" of RBB members on the subject of what happened at Etihad Stadium, "this issue has been exacerbated in  the media, and that if it was not flare use, the Wanderers fan base would have been targeted over other issues".

The statement continued: "It was agreed that flare use has been prevalent in Australia before the Wanderers came along and is not an issue that is unique to us. Any punishments applied, should be applied across the board. Consistency is key.

"We will be awaiting information from the FFA regarding their 'flare management plan' which will be presented to all parties."

The vast majority of reader comments posted underneath the statement condemned it.

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