Player strike risks wrath of the fans

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The Independent Online

Players risk alienating fans if they press ahead with plans to ballot for strike action in the ongoing row over television cash, according to a review of the sport's finances.The review, by the consultancy firm Deloitte & Touche, claims the Professional Footballers' Association has "not yet proved" it needs any more money.

Players risk alienating fans if they press ahead with plans to ballot for strike action in the ongoing row over television cash, according to a review of the sport's finances.The review, by the consultancy firm Deloitte & Touche, claims the Professional Footballers' Association has "not yet proved" it needs any more money.

It also claims the increase in TV revenue "has consistently gone to players in salaries", with Premiership salaries rising steeply – players earned £319m in the 1999-2000 season, an increase of 190 percent on levels in 1995-96.

Gerry Boon, the head of Deloitte & Touche Sport, said: "It is clear that increases in players' wages, which each club freely negotiates with its employees, far exceed the money the clubs receive from broadcast contracts. And yet players, through the PFA, now press for more from the leagues.

"It is important to note that it isn't just the top internationals reaping financial benefit – players at every level of the game are generally much better off."

And Boon urged all sides in the dispute to show "wisdom" and avoid a strike which he claims would damage the sport.

"Wisdom is now needed to avoid a dispute that could alienate the fans and risk prejudicing the well-being and standing of the industry," he said.

"Furthermore, if the PFA is to continue its excellent educational and benevolent work with former players, it must demonstrate, in a verifiable manner, the need for extra funding."

The PFA has previously been given a five per cent stake of TV money in return for players relinquishing various image rights and they will ballot members over a strike later this month. The Premier League is believed to have offered a sum in the region of one per cent of the recent £1.5bn deal agreed with BSkyB and ITV.

The PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has informed all Premiership chairmen that such an offer is "unacceptable".

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