A-League dispute: Player revolt looms as Perth star Diego Castro threatened with deportation

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Football Federation Australia boss James Johnson has a huge mess to clean up in order to settle on a new CBA between A-League clubs and players, as disturbing details emerge over the growing unrest.

As the frustrating impasse in negotiations between A-League clubs and their players over a new collective bargaining agreement dragged on, things behind the scenes have taken an ugly turn across the country, but at its most pronounced at the Western Australian outfit.

Stunning details can be revealed by News Corp of the growing player unrest around the embattled competition, which include Glory’s efforts to have its former captain deported and unfulfilled contract promises such as new Glory signing Andrew Nabbout not being paid since his switch from Melbourne Victory a fortnight ago.

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After overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed deal by the clubs on Monday, which is believed to have included 30 per cent pay cuts for next season, players are growing increasingly frustrated with the position of the league’s clubs and owners.

High-profile players are angling for the exit, with some left exasperated by hefty transfer fees being placed upon them amid interest from overseas despite not knowing whether their next pay cheque will arrive – or whether they’ll be required to accept a significant pay cut for the upcoming season, which is expected to operate under a reduced salary cap.

It is expected Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson will be forced to step in to take control of negotiations from the clubs, who have spectacularly botched their first major talks after fighting for independence from the game’s governing body in recent years.

But perhaps most concerning is the situation in Perth, where Castro is being shown the door after withdrawing from Glory’s campaign for the remainder of the 2019/20 A-League season.

FFA CEO James Johnson is expected to take over negotiations on the new CBA.
Camera IconFFA CEO James Johnson is expected to take over negotiations on the new CBA. Credit: AAP

Both player and club went on the record at the time to say his omission was made for health reasons relating to the COVID-19 crisis, but it has since been revealed that the split was driven by money – with the superstar opting not to take a pay cut to finish the season.

That divide has since grown into a chasm, with claims surfacing that Glory have threatended to call the Department of Home Affairs as it seeks to terminate the 38-year-old’s contract with immediate effect.

It can also be revealed that Glory have paid just 75 per cent of player wages this week – with Socceroo Nabbout not paid a cent – while Wellington Phoenix’s reward for a mammoth 80-day stay in Australia, away from family and friends, was to find out they’d also not been paid their full salaries.

Champions Sydney FC paid their players in full this week, but changed their payment schedule to a fortnightly payment rather than monthly.

Diego Castro in happier times, having led the Glory to Premiers Plate success last year.
Camera IconDiego Castro in happier times, having led the Glory to Premiers Plate success last year. Credit: AAP

There’s no suggestion Sydney will not make the next forthcoming payment in a fortnight.

“To be clear – we paid our players in full for the first two weeks of the month and intend to do the same for the second two weeks. That was communicated to the players (on Tuesday),” chief executive Danny Townsend wrote on Twitter.

“We are in good faith negotiations with our players on a fair and reasonable outcome.

“They have been very understanding and respectful through the process in keeping with our club’s transparent culture. Consistent with how we have engaged them through the COVID situation.”

Across town, players from the Western Sydney Wanderers – owned by Paul Lederer, who heads up the A-League club owners’ representative body – were paid only the $1500 JobKeeper allowance, putting some in a precarious financial position.

The players’ association, who have repeatedly argued the players have already made enough sacrifices to get the game back on its feet after the COVID-19 break, is monitoring the situation closely.

“As per the players’ individual and legally-binding club contracts, the clubs are required to pay the players’ full entitlements and any reduction would be a breach of their contract,” a PFA spokesman said.

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