Soccer in new storm over pay

Presented with soccer players’ adamant refusal yesterday to accept any pay cut, Greece’s cash-strapped clubs backed down from their decision last week to trim all footballers’ salaries by a blanket 20 percent. But club owners indicated that they were still bent on slashing their players’ incomes – which for top performers can reach an annual 3 million euros. The average monthly salary in Greece is around 1,000 euros. «Players’ incomes must be in proportion with those of the clubs,» Petros Kokkalis, a spokesman for Olympiakos, the reigning champions, told players’ representatives before an emergency meeting of the footballers’ union (PSAP). «Last season, 162 percent of our income went on players’ salaries. If this continues, all teams will be driven to bankruptcy.» Most teams face financial meltdown after the collapse of lucrative TV broadcasting deals in September. PSAP’s chairman, Antonis Antoniadis, said footballers «will enter no negotiations on reducing our salaries.» But he fought shy of threatening strike action.