UNION bosses have issued a seven-day deadline to the owners of the Newcastle Jesters ice hockey club over the players' unpaid wages.

The Ice Hockey Players' Association (IHPA) will finalise legal claims for the money owed to the players at the club if talks do not take place in that time.

Pay cheques, believed to total about £50,000 for players and staff, failed to arrive again yesterday - two weeks after they were due.

A letter was sent yesterday to club chairman Paul Smith, both at the Newcastle Jesters' offices and those of the Eye Group, in London, the media arm of investments firm Fablon, which owns the team.

The IHPA represents all of the team members except one of the Finnish nationals, Czech Tomas Kupka and Slovak Miroslav Mosnar.

Jo Collins, executive director of the IHPA, said the latest course of action was made "on the basis that we have not been able to speak to Mr Smith, over the last seven to ten days, at any length on this matter".

If the deadline was not met, she said: "We will finalise players' claims and begin the process of instructing our lawyers in the process of following through with legal claims."

Any players who were not IHPA members would not be represented unless they joined up and paid a penalty fee.

The union's Finnish equivalent body has already been in contact with the IHPA and this has been explained.

Ms Collins said legal proceedings could not be started until the players' contracts formally end at the end of the month.