Writing in The Times, PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor has recommended to the Board of Trustees and the Management Committee that the highly respected Sport Resolutions leads a full and open review into the structure and operation of the union.
The last week won’t go down as the best in the PFA’s 111-year history.
It’s never comfortable to find yourself the subject of such intense scrutiny. It would be easy to adopt a bunker mentality and dismiss everything that has been said – even when you know that many of the criticisms are unfair and unfounded.
But that is not going to help the 50,000 players and former players we represent. They deserve a united PFA that takes concerns raised seriously and responds fully and properly.
I am fiercely proud of the support we give players day-in day-out, the length and breadth of the country. They are not all household names at the top of the game. But this often means that the support and protection that the PFA provides, much of it out of the limelight, is even more important.
As someone who, as a player, played at every level of the Football League at a time when working conditions were far worse than they are today, I’ve never lost sight of the insecurities and challenges a short playing career can bring.
The welfare of our members is the beginning and end of our work as we support them in the battles they face during their careers and in the long years after they retire.
The PFA has spent just under £1billion supporting our members over the last 40 years. It has not always been easy or uncontroversial. But we’ve always tried to lead from the front.
We have a collective bargaining agreement that is the envy of the sporting world. As well as fighting on pay and conditions, education and medical support, we have also taken stands on issues as difficult and important as racism in football, gambling, mental health and dementia.
It was the PFA, more than 25 years ago, that brought all parts of the game together to form ‘Kick it Out’ to face down racism. The struggle for equality on the pitch, in the dugout and boardrooms is far from finished but we are proud to have played our role in starting the fightback.
We have taken a consistently progressive approach on mental health and now have a national network of over 200 counsellors underpinned by a 24-hour helpline. We will continue to do, and invest, more.
I am pleased that over the last few days, many current and former players have come out to support the work the PFA has done in these and many other areas. But that does not mean we should ignore those who have expressed the view that we, and I, have not done all we could or should.
We owe it to all our members to hold ourselves to the highest standards and keep challenging ourselves to improve. I believe we do, but it is important that we should not hide from criticism or sweep it under the carpet.
Which is why, today, I am recommending to the Board of Trustees and the Management Committee that the highly respected Sport Resolutions leads a full and open review into the structure and operation of the union.
As my leadership is one of the areas which has been criticised, it’s only right that an independent body leads this review.
The PFA have nothing to hide. We are happy to open our doors to the review, putting our record and our integrity in full view. We hope that others will do the same.
I hope, and believe, the review will find that we have got more right than wrong. Where it identifies short-comings in what we do or in our structures and leadership, we will work, I promise, to put them right.
Football needs a strong PFA and it’s important that we are working together to support the players on the pitch. It is what I’d expect if I was one of our members in those dressing rooms today. It has always been their interests which guide our work.
Gordon Taylor OBE, PFA Chief Executive