Gordon Taylor to step down as PFA chief executive

Gordon Taylor will end a 38-year stint as chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association after an independent review of the union’s work and governance has been completed.

The announcement was made at the PFA’s annual general meeting in Manchester on Wednesday – a gathering that was postponed in November when Taylor and PFA chairman Ben Purkiss clashed over the union’s direction and what role, if any, the chief executive should play in that future.

Taylor, Purkiss and the union’s 13-strong management committee will all stand down at the first AGM following the completion of the review, which means the earliest possible date is November.

Gordon Taylor, left, and Ben Purkiss, right, will both leave the PFA
Gordon Taylor, left, and Ben Purkiss, right, will both step down (John Walton/PA)

Speaking to Football Paradise on Wednesday, the 74-year-old Taylor explained that the length of the review is a matter for those who have been given the task of running it: the arbitration service Sport Resolutions and Thomas Linden QC, the barrister who recently defended British Cycling in its employment tribunal with Jess Varnish.

Asked if Linden’s work could take longer than November, Taylor said: “I honestly don’t know and that is a matter for Sport Resolutions. You don’t want the review to go on forever but you want it to be efficient and to look at every angle so we’re refreshed and ready to go on again.

“It will take what it takes. I can’t stay on forever but I want to leave (the PFA) united and with clarity. The last thing I want to do is leave it in disarray.

“If you’re not careful you can end up in disarray, without anyone leading and you’ve got a vacuum.

“It’s incumbent on me that I leave the PFA in good hands and united. When someone new comes in they can have a fresh look at it.

“I’ve told the staff not to be worried – they should look at this as a positive. And I’ve told them that maybe in 40 years’ time we won’t just be a big factor in football, we’ll be running it.”

He then explained that he, the management commitment and Purkiss would all make themselves available to Linden to enable him to do a thorough job, while also providing continuity for whoever follows them. None of the current leadership will be able to apply for senior roles at the PFA for five years, though.

Taylor said there have been several meetings about the review’s remit and it was “ready to start”.

The review will hopefully draw a line under what has been a hugely damaging chapter in the union’s history and a bruising experience for Taylor himself.

Long criticised for his high salary, Taylor has also been personally blamed for responding slowly to football’s growing dementia problem and there have also been complaints from former players who have fallen on hard times following poor financial advice.

Taylor has defended himself against those attacks and told PA Sport that he thinks he leaves the union and the game in a better place than he found it.

He also pointed out that he did not set his own pay – a basic salary of £1.3million plus a significant bonus linked to the renewal of the Premier League’s TV rights every third year – and has recently managed to secure annual funding of £60million for the union until 2022.

“I do think we’ve been a force for good and one of the best sports trade unions in the world,” he said.

“When you ask how I feel, I feel fortunate that I’ve not only been a player but a participant in making sure football remains the most popular spectator and participant sport in the world.

“I’ve always been part of football. It’s all I ever wanted to do and that’s exactly what I’ve done. I can’t imagine a life without football.

“I love it, it’s in my blood. If I’m asked to help in any way, I will do.”

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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