Strike plans recede

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The threat of a strike by Nationwide League players is expected to be officially ended today. It is understood the Professional Footballers' Association have agreed a deal with the Football League which gives the union pounds 1.2m a year for five years.

The strike threat loomed in the wake of the League's recent pounds 125m deal with BSkyB, when clubs voted to scrap the long-running tradition of paying the PFA a 10 per cent levy from television screening rights.

The PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor, initially demanded that the payment be restored, and players at all 72 Nationwide League clubs were balloted on whether they were willing to take strike action. The result of that ballot - believed to show that the players were overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action - was to be announced on 19 October.

At the last minute, however, Taylor delayed making the results public. That brought the chance of more negotiations, and those have clearly been successful.

In addition to the up-front annual payment - more than doubling last year's pounds 560,000 PFA income figure - it is believed extra funding will be provided to the union for use on mutually agreed projects. But while it is unlikely clubs will rock the boat at this late stage, the deal still has to be ratified today.