Legal row as A-League club sidelines players after shutdown

Australia's footballers' union threatens legal action against Perth Glory, whose players were stood down without pay as the coronavirus shutdown takes its toll.

Published : Mar 28, 2020 12:21 IST , PERTH

Alex Grant (2) of Perth Glory in action
Alex Grant (2) of Perth Glory in action

Alex Grant (2) of Perth Glory in action

Australia’s footballers’ union on Saturday threatened legal action against A-League club Perth Glory after players were stood down without pay as the coronavirus shutdown takes its toll.

Despite holding out to be one of the last competitions in the world still going, the plug was finally pulled on the 11-team domestic soccer league this week.

Football Federation Australia plans to review the suspension on April 22 and most clubs appear to be waiting until then to decide what to do.

Read: Australian football federation slashes 70 per cent of staff

But with no revenue from ticket sales, Perth Glory owner Tony Sage made the “heartbreaking” decision to stand down the squad, effectively keeping them on the books but without pay.

“I can’t remember sadder days except when my mum died and my brother died. It’s heartbreaking. Very, very sad,” he told the West Australian newspaper, adding that he expected other clubs to follow suit.

But Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) was not impressed, demanding their immediate reinstatement and threatening legal action under the country’s Fair Work Act if the club does not comply.

“The players acknowledge that everybody in Australia is facing a collective challenge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” PFA chief John Didulica said in a statement.

“The PFA continues to call for a collective solution to address our game’s challenges, as has been the approach adopted by... sporting bodies around the world.

“However, Tony has shown his preference for unilateral, reckless and unlawful action.” Didulica warned any other clubs considering similar moves would also face legal action.

Football is not alone working through the financial fallout of the pandemic, which has shut down sports worldwide.

The Australian Football League, the nation’s most popular spectator sport, struck a deal with its players’ union on Friday to slash wages by up to 70 percent to ensure the game can survive.

Rugby league and rugby union are both locked in similar crisis talks.

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