Analysis

Why aren’t people talking about English football’s management crisis?

With Gordon Taylor’s departure, the PFA, Premier League, FA and EFL are all looking for new chief executives – so should we be worried about the state of English football?

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Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, has revealed his intention to stand down from the role after 38 years.

Given how long as has run the PFA, the departure of Taylor, who was named by FourFourTwo as one of the 100 most influential people in football in 2017, would always be a big moment – especially given the contentious nature of his final months in the job. PFA chairman Ben Purkiss has publicly criticised Taylor, and 200 footballers signed an open letter calling for him to go.

But Taylor’s farewell adds to a worrying crisis at the top of English football. The PFA will be looking for a new head at the same time that the FA, Premier League and English Football League are all searching for new people to run their organisations.

See a pattern?

In November, Richard Scudamore announced he would step down as chief executive of the Premier League at the end of the season, after 20 years in the job. Since then, Susanna Dinnage and Tim Davies have both turned down the role in fairly public fashion after initially expressing interest – leaving the Premier League with a vacancy, and plenty of embarrassment.

In December, Martin Glenn announced he would step down as chief executive of the FA at the end of this season. Glenn’s tenure, which began in 2015, has seen a big boost for both men and women’s national football teams, but also featured a number of embarrassments: Sam Allardyce’s 57-day stint as England men’s team manager; mishandling of racism allegations against England women’s boss Mark Sampson; and the collapse of the sale of Wembley last year. No replacement has yet been named.

Last month, Shaun Harvey announced he would step down as CEO of the EFL at the end of the season. He has been in the role since 2013, but had recently caused anger among some Championship clubs over a five-year television deal with Sky – which many thought undersold the rights. A replacement would be lumbered with this unpopular, long-term deal that would account for much of the EFL’s revenue over the next five years.

An opportunity – or a warning?

Now, Taylor is off too, leaving the PFA with its own problems and internal wranglings – not least widespread unhappiness with the lack of a democratic process at the top. Choosing a replacement will not be easy.

That all four of these jobs have come up at once could be an exciting new opportunity for English football. But that they have all come up at once points to problems in English football.

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April 2019

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