PFA strike threat recedes as agreement is reached

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The threat of strike action affecting televised Nationwide League games appears to have receded following talks yesterday between the Football League and the Professional Footballers' Association.

A provisional agreement was reached after a five-hour meeting and officials are confident it will be confirmed at a meeting of Football League clubs on 14 November. Chris Hull, the League spokesman, said details of the agreement, which is subject to ratification by the League's board of directors and its member clubs, would not be revealed before the meeting.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA, welcomed the agreement and said: "This is a settlement that will be good for football and I am extremely relieved that we have reached it. I didn't see any reason why it [the dispute] should have gone as far as it has done."

The four-month long row began when the League scrapped a regulation entitling the union to 10 per cent of any television deal.

The League had negotiated a deal with Sky for live coverage of Nationwide League games worth pounds 125m over five years, but they were not willing to hand the union pounds 2.5m a year and offered a discretionary payment instead. The PFA insisted the League should honour its regulation and, when talks broke down, its balloted its members on a call for strike action.

The results of the ballot were due to have been released last Friday, but League officials made a successful 11th-hour bid to renew talks by confirming they were ready to make a new offer.

Middlesbrough are to help their Brazilian defender, Branco, find a new club following his release yesterday. The 32-year-old player, who made only one Premiership appearance this season, will be paid for the final eight months of his contract.

"At this stage in his career, Branco needs first-team football, which is something that cannot be guaranteed at Middlesbrough," Keith Lamb, Middlesbrough's chief executive, said. "Middlesbrough FC will do all it can to assist Branco in furthering his career with another club."

Middlesbrough signed the international full-back last February but the player arrived in England a stone overweight and made only five appearances in the closing weeks of the season. Branco said: "I am glad I was able to help Boro out during a difficult period. Also, I was able to give my great friend, Juninho, the help and encouragement he needed."

Gillingham are to be reported to the Football Association by Medway Police following overcrowding problems in Tuesday's Coca-Cola Cup match with Coventry City at Priestfield Stadium.

Although no serious incidents occurred during the 2-2 draw, police have criticised the club for their lack of control over ticket sales, which meant many City fans were in areas allocated for Gills supporters.

The report will detail serious overcrowding in certain areas of the ground, with figures above those contained in the safety certificate. The game had to be delayed by 15 minutes to allow all the supporters in.