Spanish footballers still prepared to strike

Start of the Spanish Primera Division may be pushed back two weeks with players and league unable to reach agreement.

     Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to spend more time lying around if strikes go ahead [GALLO/GETTY] 

    The start to the Spanish league season looks likely to be delayed after the league and football players failed to agree to a deal to avoid a work-stoppage.

    The Association of Spanish Football Players (AFE) said they will not play in Saturday's first round unless a collective bargaining agreement is signed beforehand.

    The AFE and the league (LFP) met on Wednesday but could not agree to a deal to guarantee payment of player salaries, the main sticking point.

    LFP President Jose Luis Astiazaran said there remained "big differences" between the two sides "but we have to move forward. We've reached our breaking point. We can't give more than what we have."

    "It's a shame since we agree on 80 percent of the issues but because of 20 percent we find ourselves in this situation," Astiazaran said.

    "We've achieved a lot lately... but it will be impossible to avoid a strike."

    "In this moment the AFE has no intentions of extending the strike beyond the second round of games. But clubs who do not pay should be relegated"

    AFE representative Luis Gil

    The two sides will meet again on Friday with players from 42 teams in the top two divisions ready to continue the work stoppage through the second round of games - August 27-29 - if necessary. The league wouldn't begin until September 10 if such a scenario occurred.

    Players want better guarantees with clubs still owing up to $72 million in unpaid salaries to more than 200 players.

    "The league does not want to bridge the gap," AFE representative Luis Gil said.

    "In this moment the AFE has no intentions of extending the strike beyond the second round of games. But clubs who do not pay should be relegated."

    There are currently six clubs in bankruptcy protection in Spain's top division, including all three recently promoted clubs. New legislation expected to pass in September will see clubs immediately relegated to the third division if they become insolvent.

    It would be the fourth league strike but first since 1984.



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