PFA notifies chairmen of intention to ballot players

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The Independent Football

The threat of strike action by players moved a step closer last night after the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, wrote to every club chairman warning them that a ballot will take place in a fortnight.

The decision to ballot players was taken on Sunday, but the PFA waited until yesterday to see whether there was any improved offer from the Premier League on the amount of television cash it is prepared to give to the union.

By law, the PFA must give clubs at least a week's notice of a ballot – and with no contact with the Premier League since the weekend it has now signalled its intention to do so.

The PFA's assistant chief executive, Mick McGuire, said: "Gordon has written to the chairman and manager of every club to advise them that we are going to be balloting in about two weeks' time."

If the players vote to boycott televised matches the Premier League is almost certain to take out an injunction against the PFA. The case will then go to the High Court where judges will decide whether the industrial action is legal.

The dispute centres on the proportion of television money that the Premier League and Football League pay to the PFA. In 1997 the Premier League paid five per cent, or £7.5m a year. However, following the latest deal, it has offered a much lower percentage.

The PFA claims the amount is £5.2m, while the Premier League insists it is around double that figure overall. Taylor says that the union should again be paid five per cent – around £25m.

Meanwhile, the PFA has received the backing of the Institute of Professional Sport – the umbrella group for 11 players' organisations of sports ranging from bowls to ice hockey.

The IPS chairman, Garth Crooks, himself a former chairman of the PFA, said: "The PFA has the total support of all their fellow professional sportsmen, [who] realise the value of their unions in this most fragile of careers. Players' unions have a vital role to play both for the good of sport and helping players past, present and future."

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