Football: Palace players may strike over cuts

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CRYSTAL PALACE'S players are determined not to accept wage cuts proposed by the board and there are fears they could go on strike on Monday, when the London club are due to entertain Sunderland.

Mark Goldberg, the Palace chairman, was last night holding talks with two representatives of the playing staff and was confident of reaching a solution to the latest controversy to hit the club. Palace have been forced to call in the administrators due to their huge financial problems.

The administrators have already dismissed about 45 staff at the club and are now recommending that any players' wages above pounds 5,000 a month should be cut in half over the next 14 weeks to ease the cash-flow crisis. This has caused considerable anger in the dressing-room, with three top- earning players said to be particularly upset.

The Professional Footballers' Association has been called in to take up the players' cause. Although the union's deputy chief executive, Brendon Batson, remains hopeful that a solution can be found, he conceded that the entire squad were united against the club's decision.

Batson was not prepared to go into details but revealed: "As far as I'm aware, there is no particular problem with Saturday's game at Norwich but there could be a problem with regard to Monday's game."

Batson added: "The players as a group are not happy. They feel they have not been kept properly informed, that the club have not been honest with them on certain matters."

Goldberg insisted that any wages cut over the next three months would be paid in full after that period and maintained that 22 of the 35 or so members of the club's squad would be completely unaffected by the move.

He said: "We're not asking players to take a pay cut but to defer their wages during the period of administration. This is the administrators' call but I don't think it's unreasonable as everyone has to help the club. If we pay all the players immediately in full then we can't improve the cash-flow at the club."