Gordon Taylor’s reign as chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association is to come to an end.
The 74-year-old has been in charge of the trade union for 38 years but it was announced on Wednesday that he will leave following an independent review following criticism led by chairman Ben Purkiss.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at the highs and lows of the PFA under Taylor’s stewardship.
Growing the PFA
The PFA has developed massively under Taylor and is unrecognisable from where it was when he first took over as chief executive.
The organisation now has over 60 employees – from the three in place when Taylor started – and he negotiated better deals with the Premier League, Football League and Football Association to bring in more funding.
He recently secured another three-year funding package from those organisations worth a total of £180million.
Although the Youth Training Scheme (YTS) has been altered and rebranded over the years, there is no doubt that Taylor was the main player in establishing the programme.
The number of schoolboys entering the game rose massively under the new scheme, rolled out across the 1980s, which produced some of the biggest names in the English game over the next two decades.
Manchester United’s fabled ‘Class of 92’, including the likes of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Neville brothers Phil and Gary, were developed on YTS schemes – as were plenty of future England internationals.
Football in the Community
Taylor oversaw the roll-out of club community programmes after being behind an initial six-club trial.
PFA members, as per their contract, have to do seven days a year to support the local programmes, with all 92 professional English clubs involved.
Funding is also given to Kick It Out – the organisation tasked with tackling racism within the game.
Sexual abuse scandal
One of the biggest scandals to rock British football, the PFA’s approach to tackling paedophilia within the game was questioned.
A 1997 Dispatches documentary reported on the crimes of Barry Bennell – the former youth coach who was jailed for 30 years in 2018 for a number of child sexual abuse charges.
Journalist Deborah Davies presented that documentary and was quoted as saying: “I wasn’t aware of any serious commitment by Gordon Taylor to investigate.”
The Football Association wrote to the PFA as they investigated the scandal last year, asking whether more could have been done to identify the crimes at the time.
Taylor’s salary was cause for widespread criticism when it was revealed he was paid £2.2million in 2017 – making him the highest-paid trade union boss in the world.
The Charity Commission also got involved when it was suggested some of Taylor’s wage was being subsidised by the PFA Charity – set up to support past and present players.
The revelation of the high salary led former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan to claim that football was “losing touch with reality”, with others also speaking out.
The Astle family
Taylor was criticised by the family of Jeff Astle, the former West Brom striker who died in 2002 of chronic traumatic encephalopathy – something linked to heading footballs during his era.
His wife and daughter campaigned for there to be more awareness for issues, which occurred later in life in footballers from Astle’s playing days, from heading the ball – with dementia also put down to the activity.
Compared to Taylor’s seven-figure salary, just £100,000 was invested by the PFA into head injury research – the Astle family claiming “nothing had been done” by Taylor and the PFA to aid their cause, with Jeff’s daughter Dawn last year backing the calls for an independent review.
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