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Dec 5, 2005

Jets case highlights need for CBA: union

Soccer union boss John Didulica says the Newcastle Jets player payment dispute highlighted the need for a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between A-League players and Football Federation Australia.

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Didulica was confident the dispute between Jets players and the club over the payment of their match bonuses would be settled on Tuesday.

While not alarmed by the issue, which Jets chief executive George Liolio on Tuesday said was more of a misunderstanding, Didulica said it was something a CBA could handle.

"Our number one priority at the moment is to get a collective agreement to protect the players in the A-League, and 100 per cent of the players agree with us on that point," said Didulica, who added he hoped a CBA could be agreed upon before the start of next season.

"We're going to be working hard towards that. The FFA, certainly as far as I know, are also keen to do a deal as well.

"These sort of issues with Newcastle underline the need to have a joint process to resolve these sorts of disputes, because you can't have guys owed months worth of bonuses."

News Limited newspapers on Tuesday reported Jets players had allegedly been refused payment of match bonuses as high as $4000 per player on time.

Liolio confirmed there had been an issue over when players would receive their match bonuses, but said the matter had now been resolved.

Didulica pointed to the Socceroos' agreement with the FFA in August - three months before their World Cup playoff with Uruguay - as an example of why it would be best to come to finalise a CBA before, rather than during, next season.

"I think the FFA saw the value in getting an agreement signed off nice and early with the Socceroos. It was done three months before the Uruguay game so it was very much out of sight out of mind," he said.

Didulica said the PFA had just completed an A-League player survey in which 70 per cent of the 160 players replied.

"Generally the outlook for the A-League and their clubs is positive. Obliviously there is individual issues from time to time because it is a start-up competition.

"The Newcastle situation was one thing out of the box. It's important that players are vigilant when it comes to their payments given it is a start-up competition, but these things remain the exception rather than the rule."

Didulica said the survey also showed 89 per cent of players were not involved in study or work outside of football with only eight per cent of players engaged in study.

He admitted those figures were a concern, but said the PFA and FFA were working towards setting up programs which gave players other avenues to pursue after football.

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