Debts could delay Argentine league openers

BUENOS AIRES - The start of Argentina's season next month could be delayed over money clubs owe their players, Argentine Football Association (AFA) president Julio Grondona said on Tuesday. "There is no doubt that the beginning of the tournament is at risk because several clubs have very big debts," Grondona told the cable TV channel TyC Sports. "This can be sorted out in one day, two days or several weeks... We have asked for meetings in the coming days but we must put things in order, there's a limit to everything." The Apertura tournament in the opening half of the 2009/10 season is scheduled to kick off on August 14. Grondona said some of the country's biggest clubs - River Plate, Independiente, Racing Club and San Lorenzo - had debts that players had officially lodged with their union. The debts were due mainly to the large contracts clubs signed with players and their difficulties in meeting payments were the result of a lack of income from transfers, he said. "They are paying very high salaries (and) one of the main (revenue) resources was the sale of players and now it's very difficult to transfer them," he said. Grondona said another problem was that the rights of more and more players were owned by agents and most deals were loans. "Before, the players were part of the assets of the clubs. The invention of... agents was a misfortune. "It can't be that a person owns 30 percent of a player and another 40 (percent). It seems like we're talking about cows."