Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has threatened legal proceedings against Perth Glory after the West Australian club issued stand-down notices to its players in the wake of the A-League’s suspension.
In a statement posted to its website, the union – which just a day prior had warned clubs against taking short-term actions that would be "reckless and a gross breach of their duty of care” – said that it had been provided with stand-down notices issued to its members by Perth Glory owner Tony Sage.
According to 6PR journalist Gareth Parker, Glory staff have also been stood down as part of the move.
BREAKING. Tony Sage has stood down his players, and the Professional Footballers Association is protesting.— Gareth Parker (@G_Parker) March 28, 2020
I understand staff have also been stood down.
In response, the PFA has served Sage with a letter demanding that the players be reinstated.
Should he and the Glory not move to restore the players, the union has declared that it will intimate legal proceedings against the Glory owner seeking a mandate for the player's reinstatement and fines in excess of $600,000 in accordance with the Fair Work Act.
“The players acknowledge that everybody in Australia is facing a collective challenge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” PFA Chief Executive John Didulica said.
“In times like this, our community needs leadership and, from the perspective of football, a commitment to collaboratively rebuilding our sport.
“The PFA continues to call for a collective solution to address our game’s challenges, as has been the approach adopted by the AFL and sporting bodies around the world.
"However, Tony has shown his preference for unilateral, reckless and unlawful action.
“A fortnight ago, it was fine to relocate players to the east coast away from their families and expose them to a global pandemic.
"Now, when the opportunity arises, it is considered acceptable to stop paying them. These are not the traits of a sport that values its people.
“We are positioned to take the same course of action if any other A-League club owner elects to take this course of action in contravention of both the law and the sports broader needs at this time."
Didulica later told SBS that Sage had 24 hours to reinstate players before the legal action commenced.
Full chat with @thepfa CEO John Didulica coming soon on @TheWorldGame. Says @PerthGloryFC owner Tony Sage has been given 24 hours to reinstate players or face legal action. He's pleaded for the game to unify during this difficult period. More on @SBSNews tonight. pic.twitter.com/f1RJ7CDoJC— Adrian Arciuli (@Adrian_Arciuli) March 28, 2020
A Perth Glory spokesperson declined to comment when approached by FTBL.
Glory's owner has poured over $30 million dollars into Glory during his time as owner of the club and made no secret of his desire to bring in new backers in an attempt to alleviate his concerns over losses.
This recently led by an attempt by crypto-currency group the London Football Exchange (LFE) to purchase a stake in the club - before the deal was scuppered when more details of the LFE's colourful history came to light.
The average wage of an A-League player is reportedly around $180,000, although the median is likely much lower than this due to marquee wages.
The sum represents a figure significantly smaller than the average salaries of players in both the AFL and NRL, who have both also been forced to scramble to respond to the financial challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 enforced suspension of sporting competitions.
The PFA has expressed significant concerns for the mental health of its members during the proposed lockdown, citing the significant uncertainty facing its members in the wake of the near-total shutdown of football around the world.
It has launched a collection of tools and advice on its website to aid its members during the crisis.
“During this heightened period of uncertainty, our paramount focus is on the health and wellbeing of our 700 members across some 35 countries, which inevitably incorporates their financial stability,” Didulica told FTBL on the launch of those services.
“We have committed significant resources to support members through this confronting time.
“It is clear; however, that increasing numbers are vulnerable to mental health challenges.”
On Friday, the FFA stood-down roughly 70% of its staff in an attempt to stay afloat during the anticipated lean months ahead, whilst Football South Australia reportedly stood-down 80% of its staff.