A breakdown in talks over a new A-League pay deal has escalated dramatically, with Football Federation Australia accusing the player's union of threatening the viability of the league and players considering legal and industrial action.
Negotiations between Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and FFA bosses in Melbourne broke without a deal agreed, meaning the current agreement will expire on June 30 with nothing to replace it.
It's understood the major obstacle is a reluctance from FFA to raise the A-League salary cap beyond the current $2.55 million per club for the first two years of a proposed six-year deal.
PFA chief executive Adam Vivian said it didn't meet player expectations, who have already endured "four years of wage restraint".
"This proposal would represent six consecutive years of restraint," he told AAP.
"The players are committed to negotiating in good faith and have not shut the door on resuming the negotiations."
"As it stands for the first time in seven years the players will not enjoy the protections of the CBA and the players will now consider their legal and industrial options."
FFA fired back, taking aim at the PFA leadership in a statement.
"The PFA executive has today walked away from an agreement that would have delivered the biggest remuneration and the longest period of certainty for players in the history of the A-League," it read.
"In doing so, the PFA has gratuitously verballed the club owners whose personal investment in the competition guarantees the employment of 230 professional players."
"FFA and the A-League clubs have worked diligently to build a stable and sustainable national competition, but today the PFA executive has put self-interest ahead of the good of the game."
A-League players Bruce Djite and Matt McKay were in the discussions alongside PFA representatives.
The stand-off won't help clubs, looking for certainty to plan for the season, due to kick off in October.
The player most affected could be Archie Thompson, whose future at champions Melbourne Victory depends on the introduction of a 'loyalty allowance' yet to be confirmed.
The biggest difficulty for the FFA is the CBA's expiration coming two years before a broadcast deal is due to be renewed.
Financial challenges at Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets are also likely to temper FFA enthusiasm to up player payments.
It's understood salary cap increases are proposed in year three of FFA's six-year deal, contingent on a new broadcast deal being reached.
Vivian said players were disappointed with the lack of vision displayed, suggesting to grow wages was to grow the league.
"The current proposal exacerbates the players' concerns that the salary cap is being used to restrain wages rather than provide strong competition and grow the league," he said.
"The losses attributable to some clubs are unrelated to player payments and are the result of mismanagement and poor governance and the players will no longer bear the burden of this."
With no next meeting set, Vivian said he would write to FFA today to resume negotiations.