Football: Fans' boycott hurts Sydney FC who end up with smallest crowd of season

A view of empty seating bays at the start of the match. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (AFP) - Popular Sydney FC were watched by their smallest crowd of Australia's A-League season as a fan boycott began to bite on Friday.

Just 9,155 fans watched Sydney FC beat Newcastle Jets 1-0 but Sydney's Allianz Stadium was largely deserted as "The Cove" group of supporters stayed away in droves.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) is facing a fan revolt amid fury over the publication of a confidential list of supporters banned from stadiums around the country.

Anger over a perceived privacy breach flared when Sydney's Sunday Telegraph last week published the names and photos of 198 banned A-League fans, labelling some as "louts" while lashing out at spectator conduct.

The discontent quickly morphed into a backlash against the FFA with supporters condemning its failure to defend fans over what it saw as biased media coverage and for being out of touch with grassroots supporters of the game.

Fans at some of the league's best-supported clubs have vowed to boycott weekend games in protest until the FFA presents a transparent ban appeals process agreed upon by all parties.

While some Sydney FC fans chanted their support during Friday's game, it could not plug the deafening silence emanating from the empty area that usually houses "The Cove".

One absent Sydney fan tweeted: "Can safely say pub is a lot more fun and atmospheric." Another tweeted: "My usual non-active season ticket bay was 2/3 empty tonight. A lot of regular fans boycotted, not just the Cove."

Central Coast supporters boycotted their match on Thursday, when they hosted Melbourne City with just 4,514 fans watching City win 5-1.

The fans left their seats empty with a banner indicating they had instead "gone to the pub".

The Western Sydney Wanderers' active supporters' group the "Red and Black Bloc" said via Facebook they would boycott their club's games indefinitely until the FFA changed their procedures and looked to mend their relationship with scores of unhappy fans.

Adelaide United's "Red Army" said they would walk out half an hour into Sunday's home clash with Perth.

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