CandH blogger Tony Yorke lets rip on his Gordon Taylor history
Cards on the table: I am not fond of Gordon Taylor, the head of the Professional Footballers Association.
For more than 30 years, I have held deep-rooted suspicions about his sincerity and authenticity. And I probably will for the rest of my life.
These doubts go back to the 1990s when I was an investigative journalist looking into the players’ union boss’s pay and perks, and the way he managed to raise his own salary from a relatively modest figure to that associated with a celebrity player.
More recently, a basic internet search reveals in 2017-18, he received pay and benefits amounting to £2,020,393 – a decent rate of pay by any standards.
In the nineties, Taylor’s bumper-sized remuneration coincided with the PFA getting a slice of the cash Sky TV threw at the Premier League in a bid to secure top-flight football as its most prized asset – making 90 per cent of clubs totally dependent on the income in the process.
It was also a deal that didn’t go down well with some members of the PFA’s executive committee, some of whom spoke openly to me at the time about their concerns.
I have never believed the Sky deal has been in the best interests of football. And to have a union boss’s wallet bulging from the deal doesn’t sit comfortably with me even though, legally, he is doing nothing wrong.
So, for years, I have winced every time Gordon Taylor has opened his mouth publicly, especially when the subject of wages has been discussed.
Taylor’s most recent statements about how clubs should honour players’ salaries in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, has taken my breath away.
West Ham spends in the region of £3 million a week on player salaries. The bulk of this money comes from Sky, the balance from ticketing and merchandising sales.
With no games being played for a month (and none likely to be played until July, at the earliest), the club’s income has plummeted.
Quite rightly, the likes of David Gold and David Sullivan, are looking at ways the Hammers can reduce their outgoings, thereby safeguarding West Ham’s interests in the long term.
If I were them, I would be worried. And asking players to defer their salaries until the world regains a bit of sanity is an eminently sensible consideration in my humble opinion.
Alas, it seems Taylor is exempt from this way of thinking.
Speaking in the last 24 hours, the PFA chief has told the media: “We don’t just want anyone taking advantage of this crisis to suit their own ends. A request for deferral of wages has to be realistic and meaningful and needs due diligence. Players have their own welfare to think about.”
Personally, I don’t know how strong West Ham’s finances are. But I suspect they are not robust enough to withstand the effects of Covid-19, without everyone pulling together.
So what is wrong with clubs approaching their players directly and asking for them to help?
What seems to have upset Taylor is some clubs have done so without asking the PFA to be involved. They’ve gone solo.
What a crime!
My advice to the clubs is, if you can, cut out Taylor and the PFA: I can’t see what value they offer a top-flight club, or its staff. They are, in effect, irrelevant.
This isn’t true of clubs in Leagues One and Two. And, for smaller Championship sides. In these cases, the PFA has a role to play in supporting the national game.
But in regards to top-flight football, the PFA sold its soul a long time ago. And, in my humble opinion, with that went its right to influence anything that involves the 20 leading clubs in the land.
Tony Yorke is a former national newspaper investigations editor and a former member of the senior management team of Watford FC.