By Richard Allen
ROME (Reuters) - The start of the Serie A season this weekend was postponed on Friday after the Italian Players' Union (AIC) called a strike after failing to reach agreement with clubs over a new deal over players' rights.
The Lega Serie A, representing Italy's 20 top flight clubs, refused to agree to a last-minute proposal from the AIC to sign a one-season deal to avert strike action, prompting the postponement of Saturday's and Sunday's fixtures.
"The players' union takes note of the negative response from the Lega of our latest proposal and thereby confirms the intention of not entering the field for the first match of the season," said an AIC statement.
AIC president Damiano Tommasi had earlier on Friday proposed signing a temporary contract along existing lines until 30 June 2012 while negotiations continued, but clubs' president Maurizio Beretta rejected the last-minute bid.
"Our assembly has been clear. We will only sign an agreement if it contains the two points under discussion - the solidarity contribution and that of training outside the first-team squad," Beretta told Italian news service Ansa.
The two disputed points are over the interpretation of the so-called article seven concerning players who are no longer wanted by their coaches, and who should pay a new austerity tax introduced by the government.
AIC wants those players to be allowed to train with the squad until they reach the end of their contracts while the clubs want autonomy for the coaches.
The clubs also want any new agreement to include a clause stipulating that the players must pay the government's recently introduced solidarity tax - on wages over 90,000 euros per year - rather than the clubs.
Without compromise following weeks of deadlock, there is now a possibility that more Serie A fixtures could be postponed.
"I have the distinct impression that 15 days will not be enough," said Tommasi. "We may need months."
The dispute has rumbled on since the end of the 2009/10 season when a previous agreement expired.
Strikes were twice averted at the last minute last season.