Pay dispute threatens to disrupt A-League start

Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign and the start of the A-League season are in jeopardy with players prepared to take strike action.

Professional Footballers Australia today warned that anxiety among players “could boil over” if terms for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) were not agreed to quickly.

PFA CEO Adam Vivian made the stark admission following Tuesday’s boycott of a pre-tour training camp by the Matildas.

He said upcoming friendlies and World Cup qualifiers could be disrupted, while warning player support for the A-League salary cap will “wane” in the absence of a CBA.

Gallop: Pay disputes casting doubt on A-League start

Last week the Socceroos boycotted all commercial and FFA-related events in a bid to drive their message home.

With the start of the 2015/16 A-League season just a month away, stoppages could potentially engulf the October 8 kick-off.

PFA CEO Adam Vivian: Support for the salary cap will wane

Vivian denied the players were "militant" and revealed the Socceroos had identified areas where they could make savings to help fund the Matildas and address the gulf in pay rates.

But A-League club chiefs slammed the PFA salary cap demands on Wednesday, branding the proposals as "economic vandalism" which will send clubs to the wall.

The players' union shows every sign of sticking to its guns.

We would hate to see it get to that point - Vivian

“I would never take that off the table,” Vivian said about strike action.

“It is already in a difficult stage because (Football Federation Australia) has already terminated the Memorandum of Understanding,” Vivian said.

“I’ll be clear on that – it’s been terminated it never expired. From that perspective there is already a level of anxiety that exists.

“And unless something is done about this more immediately, then that anxiety could potentially boil over and affect the A-League. That is by no means a threat, we would hate to see it get to that point.

Vivian added: “We have to remember that the salary cap is agreed to by the players, it’s not unilaterally imposed upon them.

“So you’ll find that in this process, absent an agreement, then support for the salary cap will wane for the players and I think that will be, probably, a strong position that they will start from.

“I think the reality is if it gets to that level, you know the relationship is in dire straits between the FFA and the players.”

This is not militant behaviour by the players - Vivian

Vivian said the Socceroos, who notched up their third straight win in the World Cup qualification campaign overnight, had not ruled out further action.

“The Socceroos would absolutely be open (to it) if things got to that level,” he said.

“I think the Socceroos would be willing to make additional sacrifices, however I don’t believe we are at that level yet.

“However I think it would be remiss of us to not think the Socceroos are willing to take a stand – they are very tight knit, and an important stakeholder group.

“They are very strong, and they want to see the game of football grow. The Socceroos are a highly successful team and they want to see success come to other groups.

“No-one wants this to get out of hand, we want to do what is right for football, and protect football in this process.

“This is not a militant behaviour by the players. We’ve actually tabled a growth model. We’ve got to remember that the players’ proposition is ‘let’s all be in this together.’ 

No one wants this to get out of hand - Vivian

Funds being funnelled from the Socceroos to the Matildas was one of the points that came out of Tuesday’s failed negotiations involving the PFA and the FFA.

Vivian called that action by the male footballers, “a great personal sacrifice.”

“The important thing in this is that gender equity is not defined by pulling down the male stakeholder group,” he said.

“We’ve got to bring everybody up to an appropriate level. Now in the negotiating process the Socceroos have actually identified areas where they could trim.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll go backwards in what they’ve been afforded but it means that they are seeing opportunities for them to say, ‘listen we can share some of that money with other stakeholder groups, to try and bridge the gap that exists currently’.

It just shows how united we are - Kennedy, Matildas defender

Matilda’s World Cup defender Alana Kennedy saw this action by the Socceroos as a further example of the unity that exists in the pay dispute engulfing senior levels of Australian football.

“It just shows how united we are and we all want the same thing,” the 20-year-old said.

“It’s unfortunate someone else has to lose for us to get what we deserve and we appreciate that so much and we support them 100% as well.

“It’s just bringing the football community closer and we are really happy to have the support of the Socceroos and the A-League boys.”

(Inset photo: Kevin Airs)

Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.