12 Aug 2015

Football strike looms over pay talks

8:47 pm on 12 August 2015

A players' strike looms in Australian football after negotiations broke down between A-League players and Football Federation Australia (FFA) over a range of issues.

The season is over for skipper Andrew Durante and his Phoenix side, after a disappointing performance in the playoffs.

Andrew Durante Photo: Photosport

The national body has taken the unprecedented step of withdrawing recognition of the local players' union, with the two parties unable to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The FFA has told the union it has terminated the memorandum of understanding with Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), which has underpinned the game's relations with players since 2007.

The memorandum is set to expire on Friday and will not be rolled over while negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement continue, likely through arbitration - but that means the last remaining legal protection for Australia's professional footballers will no longer exist.

Phoenix captain Andrew Durante, the PFA spokesman for the Wellington club, told Radio New Zealand the players were not being greedy.

"I don't believe, and the players and the players' union, don't believe that we're being greedy in what we're asking... we're all about the good of the game and making sure it grows in the right way.

"We would never put the game in harm... clearly the FFA don't even want to negotiate anymore."

Durante said strike action would be a last resort and he was hopeful that more negotiations will happen.

"What we believe we're negotiating about is not unreasonable, by any means, so hopefully an agreement can be reached before it gets out of hand."

The key issues included a salary cap freeze, player protections and payments for female internationals.

Durante said contract security for players was crucial; he claimed there was about $1.4 million in outstanding payments owed to players, including superannuation and non-payment of wages.

PFA chief executive Adam Vivian had hinted that players could take industrial action in response to the FFA's pulling out of talks.

"The PFA has a long track record of supporting and building the game. It is clear that FFA's CBA proposals and its decision to withdraw recognition of the PFA are very damaging to both," Vivian said in a statement.

"FFA has left the PFA and the players with no option but to take the necessary steps to secure the rights and well-being of Socceroos, Matildas and A-League players under Australian industrial law."

Vivian informed players of the developments at Sunday's general meeting, where the 177 players in attendance voted to reject FFA's latest CBA proposal.

The FFA on Tuesday announced a range of sweeping changes to the salary cap and player roster framework, which Vivian said completely blindsided the union.

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