; Spanish league players move closer to strike
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Spanish league players move closer to strike


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									BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - The start to the Spanish league season looks
likely to be delayed after the league and football players failed to
agree to a deal to avoid a work-stoppage.

The Association of Spanish Football Players (AFE) said they will not play
in Saturday's first round unless a collective bargaining agreement is
signed beforehand. The AFE and the league (LFP) met Wednesday but could
not agree to a deal to guarantee payment of player salaries, the main
sticking point.

LFP President Jose Luis Astiazaran said there remained "big differences"
between the two sides "but we have to move forward. We've reached our
breaking point. We can't give more than what we have."

"It's a shame since we agree on 80 percent of the issues but because of
20 percent we find ourselves in this situation," Astiazaran said. "We've
achieved a lot lately ... but it will be impossible to avoid a strike."

The two sides will meet again Friday with players from 42 teams in the
top two divisions ready to continue the work stoppage through the second
round of games - Aug. 27-29 - if necessary. The league wouldn't begin
until Sept. 10 if such a scenario occurred.

Players want better guarantees with clubs still owing up to €50 million
($72 million) in unpaid salaries to more than 200 players.

"The league does not want to bridge the gap," AFE representative Luis Gil
said. "In this moment the AFE has no intentions of extending the strike
beyond the second round of games. But clubs who do not pay should be

There are currently six clubs   in bankruptcy protection in Spain's top
division, including all three   recently promoted clubs. New legislation
expected to pass in September   will see clubs immediately relegated to the
third division if they become   insolvent.

It would be the fourth league strike but first since 1984.

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