Spanish football strike over as deal reached
The Spanish football season will get under way on Saturday after players and league officials reached a deal to end a strike that postponed the opening round of games in the top two divisions.
An agreement was reached on Thursday after the players' union and league returned to meet again after talks that started on Wednesday afternoon dragged late into the night, ending at 5:30 a.m.
The Association of Spanish Football Players (AFE) called off the strike after the league guaranteed payment of ?50 million ($72 million) owed to more than 200 ,players in back wages and also agreed to allow players to be released from their contracts if wages were not paid. In the latter case, if wages are not paid for three months, players have the right to terminate their contract and sign for another club.
''We've reached a deal that we believe is completely satisfactory,'' AFE head Luis Rubiales said. ''The strike is over, I'd like to thank the public for being understanding.''
League head Jose Luis Astiazaran said he would ask clubs not to deduct pay corresponding to the postponed first round.
''We need to solve our problems in a more practical manner. We're going to look to the future and keep working because there remains many gaps in the legislation governing professional sport,'' Astiazaran said. ''It was a great effort from both sides and I'm very satisfied because the ball will start rolling again, which is what matters to us.''
It was the first industrial action by players in Spain since 1984.
Football will officially get under way on Friday with a second-division match between Girona and Elche. First-division play begins on Saturday when Sporting Gijon faces Real Sociedad, with Real Madrid playing at Zaragoza on Sunday.
Three-time defending champion Barcelona plays Villarreal on Monday, as it will play FC Porto in the European Supercup in Monaco on Friday.
The first round of games will be played from Jan. 20-22 while the 20th round of games, which were initially scheduled to be played then, will be moved to May 2.
Meanwhile, the first round of Italy's Serie A starting on Saturday were likely to be postponed due to a strike threat.