Business of Sport
Serie A strike ends
AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Milan - The 2011-12 Serie A season will commence on Friday with defending champions AC Milan hosting Lazio after the Italian Players’ Association (AIC) and Lega Serie A signed a temporary collective contract to ensure the end of strike action.
A resolution to the dispute appeared on the cards after league officials last week stated they were prepared to revisit the idea of a temporary agreement.
The Lega Serie A, representing Italy’s 20 top-flight clubs, last month rejected a last-minute proposal from the AIC for a one-season deal to avert strike action, leading to the postponement of the opening round of 2011-12 fixtures on August 27-28.
However, following meetings in Milan on Thursday, Lega Serie A president Maurizio Beretta stated a one-year deal would be acceptable and the agreement was ratified on Monday. The collective agreements, which normally run for three years, have been a source of continual dispute in recent years and the new one-year deal will now run through to June 2012.
The sticking point from the AIC’s perspective had been article seven, which relates to clubs trying to force players to move in the last year of their contracts and unwanted players being forced to train separately. Changes to the Italian government's austerity package eliminated the other major grievance, a new solidarity tax that would have applied to high-wage earners like Serie A footballers.
"It was worth having such a fierce dispute," said Beretta, in quotes reported by The Associated Press.
"The clubs obtained a lot of what they wanted. It's a very innovative agreement." AIC president Damiano Tommasi stated: "The players' goodwill in these negotiations should be noted. If Beretta says the clubs obtained a lot, that should mean there won't be much more to discuss for the new contract that will last beyond this short-term deal."
The new Serie A season will now begin as Lazio travel to face AC Milan at the San Siro on Friday. Tommasi added: "The most important thing was the will of the league to evaluate our proposal last week. In the meantime, two things happened: The solidarity tax was erased and the round-table with the government was set up."