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By ESPN Staff

Spanish players close to strike over unpaid wages

ADRID, July 15 (AFE) - Footballers in Spain moved closer to organising a mass strike after they failed to reach an agreement with La Liga chiefs in their dispute over unpaid wages.

Talks between the Professional Football League (LFP) and the Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) have gone on for months over the controversial 'wage fund' issue, with players wanting money set aside to pay them if their club hits financial difficulties.

The case has been high on the agenda due to the crisis concerning Levante, whose players twice threatened strike action last season as they went months without receiving wages.

A final meeting on Monday night continued into the small hours of Tuesday morning without an agreement being reached, forcing the AFE to announce that if players who are owed wages have not received at least some payment by the end of the month then a strike will be called.

'If on July 31 the players still have not been paid then there will be consequences,' warned Gerardo Gonzalez Movilla, president of the AFE.

'We want a proposal offering minimum requirements which guarantees the payment of at least part of the players' wages.'

Since the first agreement between the LFP and AFE in 1987, footballers have had their salaries guaranteed even if the club were relegated because of unpaid debts.

However, that assurance disappeared when the contract was not renewed in 2004 and when the Ley Concursal (Bankruptcy Act), which allows clubs to save themselves from relegation by paying as little as 50% of their debts, was introduced.

Those circumstances led to the saga with Levante, but according to Gonzalez Movilla there are another six clubs who are in a similar crisis.

The AFE president revealed that while some of these clubs are keen to reach an agreement others are holding out, and unless these teams change their stance the start of the 2008/09 season will be in doubt.

'Everything was going well but yesterday (Monday) we reached an impasse with the LFP,' Gonzalez Movilla explained.

'There are some clubs that do want to sign the agreement. They are the clubs who have made some payments and who want the league to go ahead.

'But there are other clubs who don't want to sign, who want to leave this in limbo and benefit from it.

'For them it's very easy as the Ley Concursal saves them from relegation.

'This year there are seven clubs covered under the Ley Concursal and if we don't put a stop to this then next year it'll be 15.

'We will not allow workers to go unpaid.'


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