Continuing to rebuild their relationship with their fan base, a Sydney FC insider has revealed to FMF its plans to run full-page newspaper advertisments apologising for one of its members who has been the long-suffering target of the #GouwPls campaign.

The insider, speaking on condition of anonymity, told FMF if the club had any hope of regaining the trust and support of its passionate fan base, it had no choice but to distance itself from the controversial Cove member, and try to apologise to its fans for associating itself with such a polarising figure.

“As time went on, we realised the campaign just wasn’t that fucking funny. If we let either the club or our fans continue to be associated with this campaign, we risk jeopardising everything we’re building towards,” the insider said.

On social media, you don’t have to go very far to find supporters who are backing the club’s latest move. “#GouwPls is much like the Black Plague,” said Sydney supporter Justin Davies, outraged that such a damaging campaign had been the cause of so much turmoil at the Moore Park club.

However at time of writing, I was approached by a wide-eyed hopeful fan, Daniel Palmer, who hasn’t lost hope that #GouwPls can redeem football fans across the country. “The #passionisnotacrime campaign never appealed to my sensibilities and ultimately alienated me from the footballing public. These were people I once called brothers, but the hashtag divided us and ruined our friendship. Then #GouwPls came along and my life was changed forever.”

Despite the club’s efforts, it may take generations before the damage of #GouwPls – one of the darkest chapters of the Modern Football era –  will be truly understood, and many more before the scars truly fade.