CLAIMS of a player revolt at Sunderland have been overstated, with only two players so far seeking advice from the Professional Footballers’ Association over the size of a fine imposed by new head coach Paolo Di Canio.
Details emerged yesterday over the level and extent of the numerous punishments handed out by the Italian since his his arrival at the Academy of Light at the start of April.
And what has become clear is that Di Canio has little tolerance for what he regards as flaunting of professional standards.
Some of the fines appear draconian and have sparked claims that he is being too extreme but by and large the squad have followed his lead and the fact only a couple of players hasve sought PFA advice probably gives a clue to the size of any sort of rebellion.
The club will not be drawn into making a statement on the claims but would refute any suggestion that there is widespread discontent in the camp.
On the contrary, they would point out that most have welcomed the new man’s leadership and senior players like John O’Shea and Carlos Cuellar have said in independent interviews that they feel fitter and stronger as a result of the systems and sessions introduced by the new regime.
One player has been fined two weeks’ wages for leaving the training ground early without completing a weights session - though he claims he knew nothing about the session.
Another was fined two weeks wages after not coming to the ground for training claiming food poisoning, but then proving to be uncontactable because his phone was switched off.
There have been heavy fines for lateness at pre-planned team-meetings, or failing to complete routine signing sessions and then there was the no-nonsense handling of Phil Bardsley and Matt Kilgallon who have paid heavy prices for a late-night drinking and gambling session at a local casino.
Kilgallon is out of contract at the end of next month, as is Titus Bramble and neither will be offered new deals.
Their Sunderland careers are at an end.
And Phil Bardsley’s position at the club also looks untenable with the fall-out over Casino-gate continuing to be felt.
Far from this being the start problems though, the club is hopeful that it will mark the end of them.
Sunderland believe many of the claims have been overblown - like players not having days off or being overworked - and they don’t want the club portrayed as being a workhouse.
Players have been training at normal times and not all day and regarding days off, Di Canio only cancelled days off in the opening few weeks of taking the job when he was looking to get to know the players.
The players had no days off before the completion of the Chelsea, Newcastle and Everton games but since beating the Toffees, they have had a day off every week.
In the meantime, the club has pointed out that it has followed all protocols in terms of the PFA guidelines and FA regulations relating to disciplinary procedures to the letter.
Players are entitled to seek advice from the union as part of the appeals process involved in disciplinary matters. That sort of enquiry is normal procedure.
As far as Sunderland goes, a couple of players have sought to clarify the level of fines imposed and whether that level of punishment is correct.
But regardless of the transgression, the maximum any player can be fined by a club is two weeks’ wages.