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Last-minute PFA claim threatens to derail A-League restart

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Eleventh-hour demands from Professional Footballers Australia for a hike in previously agreed player entitlements is threatening to halt the resumption of the A-League.

Players are due to return to training on Monday ahead of a quick-fire finish to the season with games in July and August.

However, it’s understood the cash claim by the players’ union led by chairman Brendan Schwab and CEO John Didulica has thrown the FFA a curve ball.

Anticipating that revised government lockdown rules may permit crowds to attend sporting events in the near future, it’s understood the PFA wants a portion of potential gate receipts dispersed to the players.

The ambit claim has failed to win FFA approval - and after days of delays - it’s understood the PFA has until Monday to sign up for the original agreement, which sees the highest paid players sacrifice up to 70 per cent of their wages - or the season will abandoned.

Didulica acknowledged there are some details still to iron out prior to signing off on a resumption, telling The World Game: “We got some documents late last night (Thursday) to look at.

“If they're all in order, we move forward.

“The players have been ready for weeks. The bigger issue from our end is what is going to happen with Fox Sports and broadcasting the season.

“Everyone - players, clubs - need FFA to give us some clarity. We've done our bit and much, much more to get this far.

“We don't know anything about what will or won't happen this season until FFA has resolved its position with Fox. Other matters are of little to no relevance.”

FFA chief executive James Johnson has been working feverishly to bring the clubs and players union together in recent weeks to complete the season, with or without reluctant broadcaster Fox Sports, who appear intent on exiting the sport with three years of their $56 million a season deal remaining.

Players, many of whom have been surviving on JobKeeper allowances during the COVID-19 hiatus, are due to be paid by their A-League clubs on Monday.

It’s believed seven of the 11 clubs were against resuming the season - partly in light of Fox Sports’ current refusal to screen games unless the FFA agrees to a renegotiated deal worth as little as $11 million a year.

But the FFA has managed to turn around that sentiment, with all clubs now in favour of going ahead.

The FFA and the clubs are concerned about player welfare - both financially and in terms of their mental health - and the governing body and clubs want to see them back on the field without further delay.

The continued shifting of the goalposts by the PFA, a highly placed source claimed, was “symptomatic of an organisation which has blurred the lines of decision making between its administration and political leadership.”

If an agreement isn’t reached, player revenues will all but dry up - outside the likes of Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City - and a number of players may be forced to look for alternative careers.

It’s unknown how games would be accessed by a wider public, assuming they’re behind closed doors and devoid of Fox Sports cameras.

However the FFA have been exploring alternatives, including streaming platforms.

The FFA were also approached for comment.