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Players union reject calls for A-League pay cuts

The Smith Report into football released on Thursday says the A-League salary cap should be reduced, a recommendation which has been rejected by the players union. Among the report's 11 recommendations is reducing the $32 million a year spent on players' salaries and ensuring cheaper stadium deals for clubs, or risk the A-League's future viability.

The report says players are currently paid more 40 per cent of income generated by the A-League, compared to approximately 20 per cent paid in the AFL, NRL and Super Rugby.

"Salaries have increased at an unsustainable rate, out of step with the income the product generates and at a time when the Australian dollar is extremely competitive in the international player recruitment market," the report by Australian Sports Commission chairman Warwick Smith says.

"At a minimum the salary cap must be frozen, but it would be appropriate to explore options to reduce the cap."

But Professional Footballers Australia boss Brendan Schwab disputes the 40 per cent plus figure; the true figure of overall Socceroos and A-League player payments was between 21 and 29 per cent of revenue generated - comparable with other sports.

"The focus on player payments is unfortunate, because there's many positive things that come from the review," Schwab said.

"We've signed off on a contract, and what the FFA needs to do is ensure the existing contracts which are in place are honoured."

FFA boss Ben Buckley said the FFA would attempt to implement all the recommendations in the report, and would seek "sensible conversations" with the PFA to talk about player wages.

"If we're going to get more stability, and therefore greater security for players, we need to adjust those (salary) costs," Buckley said.

"Whether it comes from containment, freezing, reductions, all of those issues should be thoroughly considered and explored."

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Dave Williams

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