Last week, I published an article on football blog Pitch Invasion about the conflict between Melbourne Victory fans and Telstra Dome management. As part of my research for that article, I interviewed Tunna, the leader of the Blue and White Brigade. Tunna has been a key person in negotiations between the Telstra Dome, the club, and the fans.
After the Telstra Dome agreed to ease up on restrictions for the Asian Champions League last month, I was interested to learn about Tunna’s involvement in making those changes happen. He also shared his thoughts on the atmosphere created by the fans at last month’s match against the Chunnam Dragons.
This is the interview in its entirety. If you’d like to read the article, which talks more generally about the background of the conflict, go here.
What was your involvement in negotiations between the club, Telstra Dome and fans?
“Since the establishment of BWB, my involvement has relied heavily on acting as a liaison between the club, the group and the general North Terrace popolus. Along with the help of others who have done a tremendous job, this has continued throughout the negotiations with the FFA and Telstra Dome. While the meetings can become tiresome, especially when you get a sense of feeling that no inroads are being made, they also open your eyes to the greater spectrum that is the Australian Sports industry. The meetings do test your resolve and challenge your negotiation skills. I also acted as an informant to relay news through to the general supporter base via the fans forum.
“In the end, it was a collective group of people, all believing in the same cause that allowed for this major change to occur. There were many hours put into the movement to change the attitudes of the venue to allow us to support the team how we see fit. There is still some ground to cover but everyone involved should be congratulated for what we have achieved to date.”
What was your reaction to the announcement by the club this week? Happiness? Relief?
“A combination of both I guess. I was more interested in hearing other people’s reactions. Most were positive, so I started thinking about the awakening, on a grand scale of the North Terrace. Again, I felt a sense of achievement that the hard work that we were all putting in was making a difference and the Football supporters in this city taking massive strides forward.”
The changes seem to cover the majority of what fans were asking for. Were there any supporter requests still not agreed to?
“Yes, there are still some requests that were not granted, for various reasons.”
How much difference do you think the changes to stadium policy made to the atmosphere at the Chunnam Dragons game?
“In terms of the atmosphere that Melbourne fans have become known for, it was a very good effort. You only have to watch the replay and speak to the players to realise how much of a difference it does make. The stadium was like a morgue for the most part of last season. We’d hate for it to ever go back to that.
“There remain some issues specifically to do with the reserved bays and oversized flags. We are confident that this will be sorted before the next home game against Gamba Osaka.”