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, Press Association Sport takes a look at some of the key issues awaiting his eventual successor into one of the game’s most high-profile roles.
PFA AGM 2019 | Gordon Taylor on the future of the PFA... pic.twitter.com/SBDBSX14H1— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) March 27, 2019
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.
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.
Former footballer Rod Taylor, who died in April from dementia with Lewy bodies, has been found to have had brain disease caused by head injuries from the sport: https://t.co/Sz12otFdSr— Alzheimer's Society (@alzheimerssoc) August 7, 2018
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.
PFA head of Player Welfare, Michael Bennett: âOnce you would never have wanted to show any weakness as a playerâ¦ but they now realise it's not weak to talk about things." pic.twitter.com/WaYe20v2qy— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) March 8, 2019
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.
I'm delighted with yesterday's High Courtâs decision to grant an adjournment to Bolton Wanderers Football Club for an unpaid tax bill. To lose #BWFC would be devastating for the community as a whole. https://t.co/i8RQi7CjiS pic.twitter.com/g8GabD9DoA— Yasmin Qureshi MP (@YasminQureshiMP) March 21, 2019
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.