PROFESSIONAL Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor is hopeful Papiss Demba Cisse’s dispute with Newcastle United can yet be resolved.
The Muslim striker is unwilling to wear a Wonga-branded shirt for religious reasons.
And Cisse didn’t travel with his team-mate to Portugal for the club’s pre-season tour.
United wanted the 28-year-old to be part of the squad, but he would have had to wear the club’s kit as laid down in his contract.
Discussions have been ongoing on Tyneside between Cisse, his advisor and United. The PFA are also involved, and Taylor remains hopeful a resolution can be found, despite the two sides being some way apart.
And the fear on Tyneside is that Cisse - who has offered to wear an unbranded shirt, or one bearing the logo of a charity - has kicked his last ball for the club he joined in January last year.
There are few precedents in the game to what Taylor describes as a “difficult situation”.
“I can only say we are working with both Newcastle United and Papiss Cisse and his advisor to see if we can achieve a satisfactory settlement of this difficult situation which meets with the approval of both parties,” Taylor said.
“In looking to do this we are consulting and meeting with experienced people within football used to dealing with equality issues who are also members of the Muslim faith.”
It is understood Cisse has a religious objection to advertising Wonga, a controversial lender which is often criticised for its interest rates.
Islam forbids the lending of money for interest.
Wonga have also been involved in talks with Cisse, who is yet to train with his team-mates since reporting back to the club earlier this month.
United have made no comment on the situation.
Newcastle’s other Muslim players - Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko - have worn Wonga-branded kit this pre-seaso.
Cisse has previously worn United strips advertising Virgin Money and Northern Rock, who both lend money.
The pressure is on those involved to find a way forward quickly, with Newcastle manager Alan Pardew needing to know whether he will be able to call upon Cisse this season.
Should he leave, then the club will need to sign a replacement by the end of the transfer window, which closes on September 2.