- Associated Press - Thursday, September 1, 2011

MILAN (AP) - Negotiations resumed Thursday to end a strike by Serie A players, with the clubs weighing whether to accept a temporary collective contract that would last through just this season.

The strike postponed the scheduled start of the Serie A last weekend, and both sides say they want to reach an agreement before the second round begins on Sept. 9.

Players association president Damiano Tommasi last week proposed a temporary contract in a last-minute effort to avoid the strike. The clubs rejected the temporary solution then but appear near to accepting it now.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure the next round is played,” Serie A president Maurizio Beretta said as he entered a league meeting Wednesday.

Even if the clubs accept the players’ proposal, they still want an agreement on a clause concerning the rights of players to train with the first team. Clubs want the clause to state they can force unwanted players to train away from the first team or accept a transfer.

The temporary contract would give both sides a month to agree on this remaining issue.

Changes to the government’s austerity package in recent days appear to have eliminated the other major conflict, a new solidarity tax that would have applied to high-wage earners like top-division soccer.

The conflict between the players and the league has been ongoing since the last collective contract expired in June 2010.

The players set two strike dates during the first half of last season, both of which were avoided with last-minute verbal agreements.

“We absolutely need to find a solution, with good reciprocal will,” AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani said.

If a resolution is found, Serie A will open with defending champion Milan vs. Lazio on Sept. 9, followed by Cesena vs. Napoli a day later and eight more matches on Sept. 11.

Both sides also want to get matches in before the Champions League group phase begins Sept. 13-14 with Milan opening at defending champion Barcelona, Inter Milan hosting Turkish club Trabzonspor and Napoli visiting Manchester City.

The strike already means Italy’s international players will face the Faeroe Islands and Slovenia in 2012 European Championship qualifiers Friday and Tuesday without any league matches in preparation.

If the strike lasts only a round or two, missed matches likely will be made up at a later date.

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