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Graham Taylor told by FA not to pick 'too many black players' during time as England manager


Published 06/05/2015

Former Three Lions coach refuses to deny being given instruction, but points to history of promoting black players
Former Three Lions coach refuses to deny being given instruction, but points to history of promoting black players

Graham Taylor was told by officials at the Football Association not to pick 'too many' black players during his time as England manager, according to claims in a new book about racism in football.

Taylor allegedly told anti-racism campaigner Richie Moran he was summoned by two members of the FA and told to impose an unofficial quota on the number of black players in the national team.

In a passage in Emy Onuora's new book, Pitch Black, Moran recounts that during a function at Watford's ground during the 1999/2000 season, Taylor revealed as much in a conversation: “Graham Taylor came up to me and said: ‘Look, I’m going to tell you something … I’m never going to admit it, I will be sued for libel.’ He said: ‘When I was manager of England I was called in by two members of the FA, who I won’t name...’ I volunteered two names. He said: ‘I’m not prepared to say, but I was told in no uncertain terms not to pick too many black players for the national side.’”

Taylor has been made aware of the passage in the book and told the Guardian that he could not specifically remember the conversation with Moran. “That is not me trying to evade it – and it also doesn’t mean I didn’t say it – but if anyone looks at my record with club and country it would be obvious to everyone anyway that I didn’t follow what was apparently said," he said. "If anyone looks at my record, I could never be accused of blocking the way for any black player.”

There is no suggestion that Taylor, who managed the England team between 1990 and 1993 during which he failed to qualify the team for the 1994 World Cup, adhered to the alleged request.

Moran, who played for Birmingham City in the 1990s, quit the game because of the racial abuse he suffered.

Onuora, who is a lecturer in issues of racism and sport and whose brother played professional football, goes on to suggest in the book, which is out this Friday, that previous and successive England managers may have been given the same instructions.

“Moran’s revelation reveals that the FA’s primary concern was to preserve a predominantly white image of the England team, an image that they themselves had constructed and took great steps to preserve,” he writes.

“There is no question of Taylor having acted on those instructions, but the episode raises some important questions as to how many other England managers were given the same instructions and therefore felt pressurised to limit the numbers of black players selected to play for the national side.

“During his playing career, Paul Davis had wondered whether some kind of unofficial quota system was in operation, but had never considered it beyond mere speculation. It would raise the question of how many black players had had their chances of playing for England restricted and what impact this might have had on England’s fortunes.”

Independent News Service

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