Football strikers target television booty

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The Independent Online
Football League players havevoted overwhelmingly in favour of a strike. It is the first time English players have withdrawn their labour.

The strike, starting in a fortnight, is the result of a protracted battle between the Football League, which administers the three divisions of the Nationwide League, and the players' union over the distribution of television money.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, had called on his members to endorse strike action in a ballot held in the past month. He will today announce 92 per cent backing for a strike.

When Taylor announces his plans he will almost certainly instruct his members in the first, second and third divisions not to play in any game at which television cameras are present, either for live coverage or recorded highlights.

With all first division games and many in the second and third now having cameras present to provide Sky with extensive coverage, the instruction is likely to affect the majority of matches in the three divisions.

Taylor is prepared to go ahead with the strike despite threats from the Football League that it could have long-term consequences.

The strike will not affect Premiership clubs, but will however involve some of England's most popular ones, such as Manchester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City.

At issue is the portion of the television money which has traditionally been paid to the PFA and used to pay for pensions and other benefits.

Last-minute talks have been arranged. Chris Hull, the Football League spokesman, said last night: "We hope for developments over the weekend. We have always stressed that we want to continue our dialogue. Hopefully the PFA will come round to that way of thinking."

The only previous occasion on which England's professionals came close to withdrawing their labour was in the 1960-61 season when they sought the lifting of the Football League's then maximum wage of pounds 20 per week.

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