What next for the PFA after Gordon Taylor stands down at end of season?

The Professional Footballers’ Association is set for a new leadership structure following the announcement Gordon Taylor will stand down as the chief executive at the end of the season.

The union has faced renewed criticism in recent weeks over its record on supporting former players suffering from dementia.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the reasons behind the developments and where the PFA goes from here.

Why is Taylor standing down?

Sir Bobby Charlton File Photos
Sir Bobby Charlton File Photos

Taylor, who became PFA chief executive in 1981, announced last year he would step down once an independent review of the organisation – commissioned in 2018 – was complete. The 75-year-old has been criticised over a variety of issues, including his salary – which is said to be more than £2million a year – as well as the perceived slow reaction to research the possible link between head injuries and heading a ball and the incidence of dementia among former footballers. The voices of discontent continued to grow in the wake of Nobby Stiles’ death and Sir Bobby Charlton’s diagnosis with dementia.

So what happens now?

On Thursday, the PFA is holding its virtual annual general meeting, during which a proposed new structure of the union will be voted on by members. As a result of the independent review, the management committee will be disbanded, handing control of the union over to a players’ board and an operational board. Nominations have been opened for those PFA members wishing to play a leadership role, while a new chief executive will be elected.

What will the PFA’s new leadership structure look like?

The independent review panel recommended the operational board should be made up of four non-executive members, the new chief executive, the finance director as well as the chair and vice-chair of the players’ board. There would, though, be a clear separation of powers, with the players’ board sitting above the operational board in the new proposed structure, but delegating the day-to-day running of the union to the operational board.

How will the new PFA chief executive be appointed?

Coronavirus – Sun Nov 22, 2020
Coronavirus – Sun Nov 22, 2020

So how many players will be involved in the new board structure?

The review panel recommended a wide inclusion range for the 13-person strong players’ board. There should be two members each from the Women’s Super League, the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two. Three former players will also sit on the board, at least two of whom have played professionally within the last five years.

Under the proposals, the PFA maintain there will be an “open recruitment process” for the new chief executive. A three-person panel, set to include former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, will select the four non-executive members of the new operational board who would help conduct the process and be assisted by a specialist recruitment agency.

So which players are going to want to get involved in the new structure?

2019 PFA Awards – Grosvenor House Hotel
2019 PFA Awards – Grosvenor House Hotel

Currently, the PFA board of directors include deputy chief executives Bobby Barnes and John Bramhall, both also former players. It remains to be seen how the roles of both men would change under a new structure. Each would likely be a strong candidate for the top job. Ben Purkiss is the PFA chairman, so could take a leading role on the players’ board. The likes of former Blackburn striker Chris Sutton – a vocal critic of the PFA under Taylor and of the lack of direct support for ex-players suffering from dementia such as his father Mike – could decide to put themselves forward as the union looks to the future.