PFA chief Gordon Taylor was a huge help to me but it’s time to go now, says Clarke Carlisle

Dan Kilpatrick
Tough times: former PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle says Gordon Taylor supported him but suggests it is the perfect time for the chief executive to stand down: Getty Images

Clarke Carlisle, the former chairman of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), believes the time is right for Gordon Taylor to step aside.

An open letter calling for the PFA’s chief executive for the past 37 years to stand down has been endorsed by more than 200 high-profile current and former players, including Danny Murphy and Ian Wright.

It comes amid a power struggle between Taylor and current chairman, Ben Purkiss, who has called for an independent review of the PFA. In response, Taylor questioned Purkiss’s eligibility to be chairman because he is a non-contract player, with Walsall.

The letter has been sent to the PFA’s management committee, which is due to meet on Thursday in what could be a hugely significant meeting to resolve the future of the organisation.

Purkiss’s predecessor Carlisle, who has not seen the letter, said Taylor had been supportive during his mental health struggles, but also suggested he is in the perfect position to hand over the reins.

“Gordon has been nothing but supportive of me when many other people left me on my own,” said Carlisle, who held the post from 2010 to 2013. “He has done a phenomenal job across four decades, taking it from a small office of six people to what it is today. We’ve seen change at many other organisations at the top level of the game and I think, after 40 years, he is in a perfect position to pass the union into new hands and have new eyes look at it.”

Taylor’s critics argue that the 73-year-old, who was paid £2.29million last year, has not done enough to modernise the PFA and support former players faced with a growing list of problems, including dementia, mental health challenges, the traumatic effects of historic sexual abuse, addiction and financial difficulties.

The situation has reportedly put the PFA’s £25m-a-year handout from the Premier League at risk, with future funding yet to be agreed until they receive assurances on Taylor’s management.

Former Liverpool and England player Murphy accused the PFA of a “cover up”, but insisted his opposition to Taylor is not personal.

"This isn’t a personal attack, it’s about getting the best from an organisation funded massively by the League"

Danny Murphy

“Their [the PFA’s] responsibility to ex-players and players is huge, but it’s not being fulfilled,” Murphy told talkSPORT. “Ben Purkiss is a super brave lad. He’s been blocked and discredited. The reason is, I think quite honestly, is that they are trying to cover up things within the organisation. Since the TV money got big and players of my generation started retiring, problems have become bigger. If you have that much money and are only helping in such small ways, that’s wrong. I know players struggling with mental health, addiction and financially.

“This isn’t a personal attack, it’s about getting the best from an organisation funded massively from the Premier League by the TV contract. They have a percentage of the TV money which isn’t being passed down to those in need.”

PFA chief Gordon Taylor (Getty Images)

Dawn Astle, the daughter of the late England striker Jeff, has “begged” PFA members to support Purkiss, believing Taylor has been resistant to evidence that her father’s death in 2002 was linked to heading the ball.

Astle told the Press Association: “I would ask, no, beg, all PFA members to fully support what Ben is trying to do. The PFA needs reform and it needs to have people in charge who really care about the most important issues facing players — and dementia is one of those.”