La Liga fixtures face delay due to players' strike

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A proposed players' strike could postpone the start of La Liga, the top professional association football division of the Spanish football league system.

At least on this occasion proposals have been put on the table, something that didn't happen in Thursday's meeting. Now we will consider them. There has been some progress.

Luis Gil

Spanish football functionaries and players will hold last minute talks on Friday to avert a strike that could see the start of the Spanish football season postponed. If the talks fail, the strike would be first strike of its kind since 1984. The strike was called due to the growing issue of unpaid wages. The disagreement rises from Spain's bankruptcy laws, which allow for the payment of wages to be delayed like any other debt. Six teams in Spain's top flight are currently bankrupt and owe over 200 players close to US$72 million.

Spain's footballers will go on strike from Friday to Monday, canceling the start of both the first and second divisions. Top clubs, Barcelona and Real Madrid will be the high profile casualties of this postponement. There has been almost universal support for the strike with coaches and players of many clubs supporting the strike. Barcelona forward David Villa said: "We have made clear that all the players support the players' association, if a solution is not found, we won't play." When Mallorca coach Michael Laudrup was asked to comment, he made his stance clear by saying "I think it's ok what the players are doing now," pointing to the discrepancies between the riches of Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest of Spanish football.

Espanyol captain Luis García told El Mundo Deportivo on Thursday that the time for all the players to unite had come and enough is enough. "We aren't asking for more money - only that the contracts that have been signed are fulfilled. Either this is resolved once and for all or we don't play. We cannot continue like this," he added. Hércules striker Tote echoed the players' position: "If necessary, there will be no football in Spain throughout the whole year. If we have to maintain our stance until May, we will."

Should the players' end the strike as they are legally bound to represent their clubs?

Real Zaragoza striker Ikechukwu Uche told the BBC's African sports programme Fast Track: "Not all the players are owed, but there is solidarity. I don't think the strike is good for anybody - it's not good for us, it's not good for the federation, it's not good for the fans. We had expected that we were going to start [the league] this weekend but we can't - they have to resolve the issues. Once they have resolved everything, then we will start."

Further talks are expected to take place on Saturday and Monday.