Football: Strike ballot suspended but TV dispute goes on

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The Independent Online
The Professional Footballers' Association has suspended plans to ballot members on a call for strike action until further talks on its share of television money have been held with Football League officials on 2 September. PFA and League officials held a five-hour meeting in Manchester yesterday in an attempt to end a stalemate provoked by the League's decision to scrap a traditional payment that gave the union a guaranteed 10 per cent of TV coverage revenue.

League officials, who signed a lucrative deal for the coverage of Nationwide League games with BSkyB, planned to make a discretionary payment to the union instead.

The union argued that the traditional payment was ploughed back into the game and should not be reduced without consultation, while League officials claimed the PFA had built up substantial funds and challenged the union to prove the 10 per cent payment was needed.

The threat of strike action was discussed at a meeting of First Division clubs held at Birmingham City's St Andrews ground yesterday. First Division chairmen agreed to consider calling a general meeting, involving all 72 League clubs, in an effort to agree a united way forward.

Arsenal's stand-in manager, Stewart Houston, said yesterday that he had met Ian Wright to discuss the striker's recent outburst.

Last season's top scorer was only a substitute in Arsenal's first two games of the season and claimed the Highbury coaching staff "blanked me for three or four days" after he backed the club's directors for giving their manager, Bruce Rioch, the sack just five days before the start of the season.

Houston called Wright in for a "one-to-one chat" and believes the situation is now settled, but he will still not guarantee him a first-team start at Leicester today, even though Wright made his first 90-minute appearance for the reserves on Wednesday and scored a brilliant goal.

Chelsea's Terry Phelan and Liverpool's Mark Kennedy have pulled out of the Republic of Ireland's squad for the World Cup qualifying match in Liechtenstein next Saturday. Both are under treatment for injuries.

Everton are planning a shares rights issue that will raise pounds 15m for the club. A plan to issue 30,000 pounds 1 stock units, at pounds 500 each, has been approved by the club's board. An extraordinary general meeting on 16 September is expected to rubber-stamp the move by passing a special resolution.

Burnley's new East Stand has not been granted a safety certificate and cannot be opened for this weekend's Second Division match with Walsall. A safety inspection carried out by Lancashire County Council refused to give the go-ahead. The club must now wait for a further inspection later this month.