Steve On Strike Threat

Steve Lomas says football faces "a nightmare" if the players vote to go on strike - and insists that the Hammers' players would not be doing it for themselves if they took such action.
He does admit, however, that the flat rate annual subscription fee - less than £100 a year - that all members of the PFA pay could be graded according to earnings.
Steve is the PFA representative at Upton Park, and the players at West Ham have had a meeting with their union to discuss possible strike action for televised games because of a dispute over the proportion of TV money being passed on to the union.
And, as Steve points out, what top tier games are not broadcast these days?
"All games are televised," he says, "and it is going to be a bit of a nightmare.
"Fingers crossed everything is sorted amicably and that the money people have a re-think so there is a fairer split."
He is keen to stress where the money, which the PFA say is less than has been offered in previous years - a claim disputed elsewhere - is not for the current crop of stars.
"Some people think the money coming in will be dished out to the Premiership players, and that is not the case.
"We aren't looking to earn any more money from it; it is not to buy David Beckham another car.
"What the fans don't realise is that it is not for the top players to get any more money  - because they won't.
"It is for players past and present - for those not so fortunate as us, people like Tommy Smith who gave years of service to the game, and for whom the PFA paid the operations on his knees.
"It is for money to send young players off for further education in America, kids who haven't made it as pros, so they can get scholarships to get qualifications.
"There are a wide variety of things that should be paid for and I see all this at the meetings. 
"All the money goes to certain funds; you wouldn't believe how many players have come on hard times and ask the PFA for assistance.
"The PFA have a valid job looking after people; they have thousands of members past and present
and do a wide range of things.
"They pay for funerals of players that have died, when the wife has come forward to pay for a proper burial.
"It is for players who have never earned the money; as Gordon Taylor says, what the PFA earns is all shown.
"We aren't looking for any more money for ourselves; it is for the not so fortunate and it is only right that we stand firm."
He is not denying that West Ham's current first team squad is in a privileged position financially - the Hammers are believed to have the eighth highest wage bill in the top flight - and Steve adds:
"Some comments made have been stupid; the rewards are very good but there are players who have put an awful lot into football in the past who did not share those rewards.
"It would be wrong of the top players just to say 'well, we're all right, forget about the rest,' that it doesn't matter about them.
"Nobody wants to have a strike; that goes without saying - they would like it settled amicably between the Football League and the Premiership."
He does admit, though, that the current system whereby every player - from those earning tens of thousands a week to those earning a fraction of that - pays the same £75 subscription needs to be looked at.
"That would not be a bad idea at all; maybe that is something for the PFA to chat about.
"But if you look at the top players, they probably don't ask the PFA for a lot because they don't need it; those top players, percentage wise, will use it less.
"The lower league players would use it more because they need to.
"But it might be a valid point and there could be an argument there."
Steve is conscious, also, of the notion that the players might be perceived as 'biting the hand that feeds,' and says:
"TV has brought the game up no end but since the last agreement the money the Premiership has received has gone up five fold.
"But if it has gone up five times and they are not going to offer the PFA what they offered last time, we feel it is wrong, no matter what they say.
"We all know we are very fortunate to be earning what we do.
"The money in football has gone through the roof; we can afford the cars and live in the nice houses.
"There are nice trappings and no one is disagreeing with that, but it hasn't always been the case.
"That's why we feel, the players at West Ham especially, we have to make a stand for those less fortunate than us.
"One of the prime reasons is that it wouldn't be fair to say we are financially secure and forget the past players who have brought the game on to where it is now."
Despite the principles at stake, he still hopes strike action will be averted, and says:
"Ideally it would be solved amicably, because I don't think anybody would come out looking good if there is a strike.
"But there doesn't seem a way around it because I think the PFA and the Football League has said it is their final offer.
"This has been going on for some time now; what other way can the PFA take but to make a stand?
"Ideally we would want it solved amicably, and if you asked Gordon Taylor I'm sure he'd say the same.
"They should all get around the table and sort it - I don't think anyone will come out of it smelling of roses if there is a strike."
In the light of the bad publicity received by certain players elsewhere at the weekend, Steve knows that the public image of footballers is not at its highest at the moment.
But he says the top players do a lot of work for charity, and cites the example of upcoming opponent Paul Gascoigne.
"Paul Gascoigne has been slated from pillar to post in the press but I bet he has made a lot of people's days by giving shirts and this and that.
"I receive numerous requests for shirts for charity myself.
"You probably don't hear about those things so much because the press only want to hear about the misdemeanours.
"And the players probably don't want to come out and say 'I've done this, I've done that' because it looks as if they are doing it just to get the praise."
Ultimately, though, Steve is concerned for the supporters, and says:
"The fans always seem to be the ones who suffer and it will be unfortunate if this goes ahead."