Football: Players threaten strike action

The Football League and the Professional Footballers' Association are to have talks this week in an attempt to avert a players' strike. Gordon Taylor, the PFA chief executive, says he will issue ballot forms in the first week of August should the league refuse to pay 10 per cent of television revenue. More than 1,500 professional players at the 72 league clubs would be asked to vote, and a strike would leave the Premier League operating in isolation.

The threat of strike action has angered the league, who struck a new deal with Sky worth pounds 25m. Andy Williamson, the league's assistant secretary, insisted that the league would not increase their seasonal payment of pounds 560,000 to the PFA to help finance the operation of benevolent grants, educational assis- tance and insurance.

"We have not paid 10 per cent to the PFA since 1987," he said. "If you check the PFA's accounts you will see they have now accumulated an pounds 8m surplus, effectively through contributions from the Premier League and the Football League."

Taylor warned that a strike remained a distinct possibility. "Amazingly, at a time when they are getting more money than ever before, the League have chosen to say our right to 10 per cent has been removed," he said. "They have broken an agreement that has been in existence for 30 years."

Manchester United are expected to put the seal on a pounds 3.5m deal for the Czech Republic midfielder Karel Poborsky in the next 48 hours. Nigel Worthington, the Northern Ireland captain, has joined Stoke City after being released by Leeds United. The 34-year-old defender turned down the Blackpool player-manager's job last month.