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Cleveland forfeits AFL game after players strike

A strike by Cleveland Gladiator players forced the cancellation of an Arena Football League game against the visiting Pittsburgh Power on Friday night.

The game was forfeited to Pittsburgh as the Power were ready to play.

There was no indication that the strike was going to spread to other games, including the Shock’s home contest tonight against the Kansas City Command. The league’s other two Friday games were played.

“I’m not worried at all,” Spokane owner Brady Nelson told The Spokesman-Review, adding that he doesn’t expect roster changes on either sideline tonight. “I really don’t anticipate anything happening.”

The players union’s latest request is to increase the per-game salary from $400 to $600. Nelson said the AFL’s offer of $500 has been on the table for months.

“We would like to make a long-term deal,” Nelson said. “We don’t want a one-week, two-week, seven-week agreement. They’ve been unwilling to do that. That ($500) still stands. I don’t believe the players were ever given the opportunity to vote on it.”

AFLPU executive director Ivan Soto told several media outlets Friday he is frustrated by the league’s unwillingness to negotiate.

Prior to the Pittsburgh-Orlando season opener in March, the AFLPU called for a work stoppage when demands for $1,350 per game were rejected by the AFL. Pittsburgh owner Matt Shaner responded by firing his entire team, including quarterback Kyle Rowley, during the pre-game meal. Several Power players reconsidered and joined replacement players to participate in the game.

“I plan on playing,” said Rowley, who joined the Shock in early April.

In Cleveland, the team announced shortly before kickoff that the game would not be played.

The Gladiators are owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

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