The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, has warned of an impending civil war between Europe's top clubs and Fifa, the governing body of world football, with no end in sight to the long-running row over international call-ups.
Allardyce is furious after losing five key players this week to what he dubbed "worthless" friendly matches around the world. And he predicted that with both sides digging in over the issue the conflict would soon escalate into courtroom battles with hundreds of livelihoods at stake.
Allardyce said: "The battering between Fifa and the associations is massive at the moment because international football is frightened that club football has overtaken it.
"Fifa are going to try to impose more restrictions to make sure international football stays ahead, and you are going to have a massive head-to-head at some stage.
"The almighty power lies with Fifa, and if Fifa turns around and says to our league you've got to reduce to 18 clubs, then you're taking clubs into mass redundancies, administration and going bust.
"So what club is going to allow that to happen and not go through a court of law to fight it? I think that is going to happen in future."
Allardyce fears the break-up of his side, which is currently enjoying a seven-match winning run, because of the implications of this week's international matches. He is worried about the safe return of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Khalilou Fadiga, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Tal Ben Haim and El Hadji Diouf and their fitness to line up against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
"I think we could all have done without this international week," added Allardyce."For every Premiership manager who has lost a player, if it is to a friendly then it is just simply worthless.
"How is an international manager going to train them, because if he is going to train them at any level at all he is out of order. To play on Wednesday then jump on a plane on Thursday means they are not going to be capable of playing for us.
"Without this week I would probably have picked the same side for Middlesbrough. Now my fear is a break-up of that side for one reason or another, and that might mean the break-up of results."Reuse content