Gordon Taylor will stand down as the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association by the end of the season. The 75-year-old set out plans for his departure in a letter to union members.
Taylor, who took the PFA’s top job in 1981, announced last year he would stand down once an independent review of the organisation was complete but until now had not set a time limit for his departure.
The union has faced renewed criticism in recent weeks over its record on supporting former players suffering from dementia, in the wake of Nobby Stiles’ death and Sir Bobby Charlton’s diagnosis with the condition. Taylor has been criticised over a variety of issues over his near-four decade tenure, including his salary. During the initial weeks of this year’s coronavirus crisis, Taylor refused to take a cut to his reported £2m annual salary but did make a £500,000 donation to the NHS and other charities.
In his letter to PFA members, Taylor wrote: “As I announced at our previous AGM, now that the independent review process has completed, I too will step down, by the end of the current season. A new chief executive will be elected following the recruitment procedure recommended by the independent review, and we have already made substantial progress in that direction. I will of course be available in the future whenever needed to support the PFA.”
The one-time winger for Bolton, Birmingham and Blackburn retired from playing in 1980 before becoming chief executive the following year. He helmed his union’s dispute over TV money with the Premier League in 2001 which came close to a players’ strike, only for a settlement to be reached at the 11th hour.
Dementia, its links with heading the ball and the PFA’s perceived slow response have seen Taylor and his colleagues come under heavy condemnation. Dawn Astle, daughter of the former England forward Jeff Astle, who died of a brain condition normally linked to boxers, has led that criticism in recent years, and John Stiles, son of Nobby, had called for the resignation of Taylor and his leadership team in an interview with the BBC on Wednesday. Five members of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad have been diagnosed with dementia.
A three-person panel, including former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, will select the four non-executive members of the new operational board who would then conduct an open recruitment process for the new chief executive, assisted by a specialist recruitment agency. The PFA’s latest progress report said the search for the quartet of non-executives was “significantly advanced” and it was anticipated they would have been identified by December 2020.