A-League clubs and the PFA are stuck in negotiations over how to drastically reduce club's wage bills following the COVID pandemic.
COVID's financial impact combined with Fox Sports' decision to vastly reduce their broadcast relationship with the A-League has left the league's players facing significant wage cuts.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, A-League clubs are seeking to pick and choose which players face up to 30% wage cuts, and which face lower, or even no reductions.
A-League clubs are also reportedly asking for a deal that will see them give some of their highest paid players a choice: a 30% cut, or a cancellation of their contract without further renumeration.
"We are negotiating with the PFA. It’s reasonably amicable as far as I am concerned. We have explained the landscape, they have to make up their minds and we have made them an offer they need to consider," APFCA chairman Paul Lederer told The Herald. "It’s up to 30 per cent but it doesn’t mean every player gets a reduction of 30 per cent. That’s what’s on the table ... every club has the right to offer what they want."
This is partly due to the significant financial inequality across the league, which sees many A-League players earning minimum wage - that can't be lowered - while the top-paid imports earn over a million dollars per year.
A-League imports such as Diego Castro, Adam Le Fondre and Bruno Fornaroli have already reportedly baulked at the idea of such wage reductions, with a sizeable A-League exodus apparently in motion.
But before many players make their final decisions, the PFA are holding out on a better deal, with the union citing the significant sacrifices players have already had to make as a sign that they should be spared - as much as possible - from further reductions.
"The negotiations with the A-League clubs remain ongoing for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement for the A-League and W-League," a PFA spokesman said.
"The players illustrated their extraordinary commitment to the game in completing the 2019/20 season through high quality performances and significant sacrifices. Our objective is to now work in partnership with the clubs to rebuild and reboot the professional game."
How much the clubs can bend - if at all - will likely go a long way to deciding how many imports the A-League has next season. But with talk of a reduction or possible dissolution of the A-League's salary cap next season, the long term sustainability of any deal is up for debate.