WESTERN Sydney Wanderers have stepped up a war of words with Melbourne Victory as the fallout from last weekend's fiery clashes involving both sets of fans continues in a battle of press releases.
This sparked a furious reaction from the Sydney club who today circulated a statement of their own, insisting their notoriously boisterous supporters have been wrongly targeted by Victory, a club who are currently having trouble finding common ground between themselves and their Northern Terrace active supporters group.
"The club fully supports any call for severe sanctioning of any individual identified as being involved in anti-social behaviour and is committed to working in collaboration with the Melbourne Victory Football Club and all relevant stakeholders to identify any individual involved either at the match or in the unfortunate incident triggered by some Melbourne Victory fans at the Wanderers pre-match hotel function,” the statement read.
"While appreciating the difficulties that Melbourne Victory are currently experiencing with its active supporter group remaining on strike because of irreconcilable differences, the Western Sydney Wanderers will not shy away from its full responsibility for the behaviour of any fan that can be directly linked to the club. We have every confidence that Melbourne Victory share these same views."
The club also moved to affirm its "zero tolerance" policy towards anti-social behaviour during matches after a section of the travelling Wanderers supporters ignited flares and sound-bombs during the second half of Saturday's game.
"The club reaffirms its full support of its 16,700 members who continue to set a new benchmark for fan support in any sporting code in the country and will not let the actions of an absolute minority stand in the way of this recognition," the statement said.
"The 1500 Wanderers fans in attendance at Saturday’s match who demonstrated exemplary behaviour is a greater reflection of the club’s values and culture than the five or six individuals who chose to demonstrate completely unacceptable behaviour.
"The club also further notes that it has a virtually unblemished record of fan behaviour at its matches this year and will be seeking to establish a co-operative and collaborative approach with the Melbourne Victory Football Club to better understand and identify what may have been the catalysts for the events of Saturday and in so doing identify the necessary preventive strategies to ensure that such events do not occur in the future."