The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cut costs, save soccer, says Pele

Rome: Brazilian great Pele has warned Italian football clubs to cut their costs to avoid the kind of player strikes that disrupted American baseball in the mid-1990s.

“You need to review the books and players’ contracts, otherwise you run the risk of everything grinding to a halt, as happened in US baseball,” he told Italian news agency ANSA in Bologna, where he is a guest of shoemaker Armando Arcangeli.

“The teams of the past were never late paying the salaries, they honoured their deals. Today, however, directors have made insane investments and find themselves in difficulty.

“They’ve spent crazy sums on players and so they need to renegotiate the contracts: it’s better to get a little less, but get it, than get nothing at all.”

“If there was a strike in football, what would people do on a Sunday'” he continued. “It would be a social problem.”

The start of the current Italian league season was delayed because of a dispute over TV rights.

At the end of September Fiorentina were declared bankrupt, and last week Lazio president Sergio Cragnotti announced he was selling the club after his tinned-food company, Cirio, defaulted on a bond. Last Friday a meeting of the Italian football league debated whether to cut salaries in Serie A and B.

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