Comment: Gordon Taylor must be open about his own gambling issues for the sake of the PFA

He is realistic enough to know that he cannot simply hope to sweep this under the carpet

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Gordon Taylor has not held the top job at the Professional Footballers' Association for 32 years without making a few enemies and he has won enough of the ruthless political battles that rage in football over the years to know that this latest one is his biggest yet.

The revelation that he has a personal debt of £100,000 to a bookmaker, during a time in which he has publicly warned against the dangers of his union's members gambling, represents the most severe danger to his position which, at 68, he clearly has no intention of walking away from and which the PFA committee today voted for him to keep, giving him its "full support".

It reflects badly on him and even at the PFA, where Taylor calls all the shots, that will be self-evident.

For Taylor, the issue of his salary – £1m plus – is one that is always thrown in his face. In that respect he is no different to many high-profile trade union leaders, whose salaries are always under attack from those political opponents who would seek to create a division between them and their members. Yet compared to the chief executives of many leading Premier League clubs his salary would look moderate.

No one could argue that Taylor has not kept the profile of the PFA high in an age when some of its richest members could have decided that they did not need a union. But the PFA unites those like Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney at the top of the game with those making a living way down the divisions and that is a good thing.

When I spoke to the PFA this summer to ask about talking to a young player, Gerard Kinsella at Fleetwood Town, who had failed a drugs test, it was Taylor who rang me back with the details and to give me his opinion on the case.

What Taylor faces now is the accusation of hypocrisy. He is the one who called for a zero-tolerance approach to gambling when Andros Townsend was suspended for misconduct over betting in June.

The PFA chief executive is realistic enough to know that he cannot simply hope to sweep this issue under the carpet. He has to come out and address his own issues with gambling to regain the confidence of his members.

For an old union hand, the next few weeks will be difficult. He will be called a fat cat and worse. The credibility of the PFA will come under fire too. If anything, Taylor will have to be open for the sake of the organisation that he has led for so long.