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Taylor’s PFA farewell will not upset too many people

GORDON Taylor will end his controversial tenure as chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, after 38 years, following his completion of a review into an organisation he has dominated for all that time.

Taylor has finally announced a ­sequencing of events, ahead of relinquishing a position he has held since 1981, in an agreement that will also force chairman Ben Purkiss and the rest of the players’ management committee to stand down. Concerted calls for Taylor’s departure were first revealed by the Daily Telegraph’s sports section two years ago, amid genuine anger, both at the lack of progress of research into the link between football and dementia, and the care being offered to former players and their families.

Dawn Astle, daughter of former England striker Jeff, who lost faith in Taylor’s PFA leadership, said she was “pleased” with the news.

But she has now called for there to be a genuine overhaul in the organisation, and more resources directed towards helping vulnerable former players and their families.

After her father was found to have died in 2002 from a form of dementia, caused by head trauma, and she was contacted by hundreds of other families of former players with dementia, Ms Astle said: “The PFA have let my dad down, let my family down and let football down, by not being more proactive in pushing for answers.”

Taylor has always defended his organisation’s record of care, and has now revealed that he had secured another vast funding deal with the Premier League, Football Association and English Football League, which will safeguard the PFA’s financial future for the next three years, at least.

It is understood that the Premier League’s annual contribution to the PFA will again be worth around £23m.

The big caveat in Wednesday’s ­announcement was that Taylor and Purkiss would continue in their roles while Sport Resolutions, an independent, dispute-resolution service, completed a full review of the PFA’s governance, management and operations.

This will be led by Thomas Linden QC, but the timescale for the review has not been defined. However, there is hope from within that it will be completed by the next annual general meeting, late this year.

An independent process will then start to appoint a new Chief Executive and, once complete, Taylor and the management committee will depart at the next AGM.

The agreement also precludes any member of the current management committee, such as Purkiss, from becoming chief executive for a five-year period.

Other ­members of the committee include England women’s captain Steph Houghton, Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

The compromise decision, which was supported by club delegates at Wednesday’s AGM, but formulated before the gathering in Manchester, followed a ­public dispute last year over the eligibility of Purkiss, a Walsall ­defender, to continue on the management committee.

Purkiss had been calling for an independent review of the organisation and, after a further wave of criticism and questions about the PFA’s governance, Taylor did agree to that review last November.

Telegraph Sport then also revealed that the Charity Commission had opened a regulatory, compliance case into the PFA Charity.

It is understood this will focus on concerns raised about the salaries of senior staff, notably Taylor’s recent annual income of more than £2 million.

The Charity Commission said: “Trustees should be able to demonstrate that all decisions around expenditure have been carefully considered, in line with the best ­interests of their charity, and those it is set up to help”.

On Wednesday, Taylor described some of the attacks levelled at the PFA’s leadership as unfounded and ­unfair. But he acknowledged that there had been internal friction.

“At times last year, members of the management committee did not see eye to eye on a number of issues,” he said, before claiming they were now “united” on the best way forward.

Purkiss said: “Last year, I stated that the PFA needed to evolve, or risk us getting left behind.

“I said, publicly, that we needed to review the governance of the organisation, and I welcome the fact that an independent review will take place.”

Taylor’s departure will represent the end of a hugely-influential and significant era in the administration of English football.

The former Bolton, Blackburn and Bury winger was appointed to the PFA management committee as a player in 1972 and became Chairman in 1978. He was appointed Chief Executive in 1981, and was effective in building both his own power base, as well as that of the organisation.

This became most apparent when he saw off a Premier League attempt in 2001 to cut funding, by threatening a players’ strike.

His role in securing such a significant share of the Premier League’s broadcast income has long been a point of admiration within football administration.

But the annual backlash over his salary, believed to be comfortably the highest of any trade union official, has only intensified.

Taylor’s impending departure also continues the dramatic recent change in the administration of English football.

Richard Scudamore stepped down as Chief Executive of the Premier League last year, and his vacancy has still not been permanently filled, while Martin Glenn and Shaun Harvey will, respectively, leave their Chief Executive jobs at the FA and EFL at the end of this season.

Taylor said: “For over 40 years, I have represented and fought for the most important people in football, the players.

“I am honoured to hold their trust, and equally proud of the brilliant PFA staff, the organisation we have built and the work we do. It has been my life’s work.

“But, when you fight hard for something, inevitably, you are going to find that not everyone agrees with you. And, when the players are often an afterthought on the big issues facing our sport, I make no apology for a track record of hard-headed advocacy for them and their interests.”

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on Mar 29 2019. Filed under Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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