Serie A makes peace offer to striking players

MILAN - The Italian League made a peace offering to players on Thursday which it hopes will prompt them to call off a strike that prevented Serie A from starting last weekend.

Lega Serie A, representing the 20 first division clubs, said in a statement it was willing to implement six new measures which had been agreed in principle with the Italian Players' Union (AIC) last December.

It added it was also prepared to meet the AIC again to negotiate the so-called article seven, which concerns players who are no longer wanted by their clubs and which has been the main sticking point for an agreement.

AIC president Damiano Tommasi said he wanted time to consider the new offer.

"We have taken a great step forward," Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis told reporters after Thursday's meeting. "If there is any type of strike after this, it will be solely down to Tommasi."

The AIC wants a guarantee that players who are no longer wanted by their clubs will be allowed to train with the first-team squad until the end of their contracts.

The clubs say the decision should be down to the respective coaches.

The League and the AIC have been widely condemned over the strike, with Italian FA president Giancarlo Abete saying he was baffled as to how article seven had attracted so much attention.

Many Italians see the strike as futile with the League as much to blame as the players.

The League added in its statement that it had proposed that Abete have the final word if the two sides could still not reach an agreement over article seven.

A previous collective agreement expired at the end of the 2009/10 season and negotiations for its renewal dragged on for the whole of last season.

Strikes were narrowly averted on two occasions, the second in December by an agreement which the AIC thought had settled the matter.

However, Lega Serie A never signed the agreement alleging, among other things, that there had been a change of leadership at the AIC.