The Professional Footballers’ Association is set for new leadership after it was confirmed Gordon Taylor is to step down as chief executive at the next AGM once an independent review has been completed.
Here, Football Paradise takes a look at some of the key issues awaiting his eventual successor into one of the game’s most high-profile roles.
Taylor, 74, had been in charge of the trade union for 38 years, during which time he helped moved the organisation forwards. However, his salary continued to draw criticism, up to more than £2million as well as additional benefits for car allowance and private medical cover. At a time when many former professionals are struggling financially in their retirement, often forced by injury, finding a middle ground moving forwards while still being paid the “going rate” for a leading union official should be tackled head on before their first day in the job.
Unite the union
An independent review was commissioned following criticism of Taylor led by PFA chairman Ben Purkiss. The on-going internal power struggle forced the organisation’s annual general meeting in November to be delayed, as former players raised concerns over governance issues. While a new chief executive may go some way to appeasing the calls for change, making sure everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet again will take some diplomacy.
Part of the issue around Taylor’s salary was offset against the £100,000 which the PFA contributed towards concussion and head injury research over a five-year spell. Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia remain a powerful topic. Dawn Astle, daughter of former West Brom and England striker Jeff Astle – who died aged 59 after living with dementia – is a leading voice for the campaign. She has been a stern critic of Taylor, viewed as being out of touch, and is a person the new chief executive would do well to get onside quickly.
It is, of course, all aspects of a player’s well-being which the PFA looks to help maintain, both during their career and for life afterwards. The hard work of those dedicated behind the scenes – such as director of player welfare Michael Bennett – should continue to be championed, along with campaigns to help tackle the stigmas over mental health and sexuality as well as the on-going battle for racial equality.
Clubs’ cash crisis
While not the PFA’s direct responsibility, the union stands to protect player incomes when clubs find themselves in financial difficulty. Recent events at Bolton have highlighted the importance of such support, as the fight for owner responsibility and accountability rumbles on.
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