Argentine government to help cash-strapped clubs

BUENOS AIRES - The Argentine government said on Thursday it is examining ways to rescue the country's cash-strapped clubs, whose financial woes have forced a delay in the upcoming season.

On Tuesday, the Argentine Football Association (AFA) rescinded a contract granting TV rights to a broadcast company, hoping to find a new deal to increase revenue and bail out the clubs.

Argentine media have reported the government was planning to take over the broadcast rights, but Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez said officials are studying options "that won't cost the state one cent."

He spoke after AFA President Julio Grondona met with President Cristina Fernandez, whose government has increased state control in the economy.

AFA officials say they are looking to sell the TV rights for around $158 million, more than double the value of the previous contract.

League officials pushed back the start of the season to August 21 after the players union complained that more than $8 million in salaries had not been paid.

Argentina's first-division league frequently showcases some of South Amercia's top talent, with players often being sold to European clubs.

But Argentine clubs complain the global economic downturn has forced them to sell players for a fraction of their real market value.

Many fans say the clubs' financial troubles stem from mismanagement and corruption by officials running the teams.