To gauge how poorly Gordon Taylor has performed for his members during the current crisis, consider this: the words ‘maximum wage’ and ‘salary cap’ are increasingly part of the discussion around football’s future.
Almost 60 years since Jimmy Hill, in Taylor’s position as head of the Professional Footballers’ Association, successfully campaigned to abolish the rule that prevented any player from earning more than £20 a week — allowing Johnny Haynes to become this country’s first £100-a-week footballer — the conversation has again turned to whether there should be an upper limit on what a player is paid.
Amid a global pandemic, Taylor is responsible for footballers becoming the easiest target.
Gordon Taylor has been heavily criticised but he has managed to retain his lucrative position
His clumsy political games have sown seeds of resentment at a time when the consequences of coronavirus enhance emotion like little before. No wonder there is increasing talk of regime change with former players such as Dave Kitson in the vanguard.
Across the last two months, rather than being a voice of reason and conciliation, Taylor has consistently burnt bridges: with clubs and club owners, with the public, even with former players now in the media.
At a time when the PFA could have led, it has resorted to petty snipes and point-scoring. No wonder there appears to be increasing distance between the leadership and its members.
Even in the days when the #PlayersTogether charity initiative was being put together, against a backdrop of deferral requests from clubs, the PFA was an unwelcome voice of disharmony.
Taylor has consistently burnt bridges, rather than being a voice of reason and conciliation
It issued a lengthy statement including a contemptuous dismissal of the Premier League’s own charitable donation. ‘£20m is welcome, but we believe it could be far bigger,’ it sneered.
So when the first month of the Players Together collection came in at £4m, what should have been a lauded contribution appeared a little underwhelming.
Not the players’ fault, but that of their union. Taylor’s posturing undermined a noble mission.
That player wages even stayed on the news agenda for so long is a failing on his part. Players are employees of private companies. Well remunerated, yes, but salaried. Only Taylor’s intransigence faced with an industry in crisis made them headline news.
Dave Kitson wants the Professional Footballers’ Association overhauled from top to bottom
With amicable negotiations, understanding of a unique moment in time and charitable gestures, footballers could have emerged from this with their reputations enhanced. Quite a number still have — often those with least connection to the machinations of the PFA.
There won’t be a maximum wage, although a salary cap may yet result in some tiers below the Premier League, but the fact it is no longer considered an extreme or left-field idea shows how poorly this hand has been played by Taylor and his PFA cohorts.
He won’t be at the helm much longer, and after some lamentable performances around key issues of late, coronavirus provided an unlikely opportunity to depart reputation restored. Instead, he is taking his members down with him.
Whether for Kitson, or a rival candidate, it’s time to go.