There are far more significant alleged conflicts of interest where Gordon Taylor, the £1.02m-a-year chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, is concerned.
Such as whether it was in his members' interests for him to take a £700,000 out-of-court settlement from News International and, in return, sign away confidentiality on which players had had their mobile phones hacked.
Taylor has been unwilling to discuss that one, though he was forthcoming yesterday when an indignant Manchester City asked whether it was right that he should have acted as Carlos Tevez's union rep in his disciplinary hearing last Friday, then made the decision that prevents the club fining him more than two weeks' wages.
Taylor's declaration that a four-week fine is too severe puts him out of touch with the game and, almost certainly, with his members – though players generally don't challenge the 66-year-old's fiefdom. Taylor was actually right to observe that City have been unable to prove Tevez refused to enter the field of play against Bayern Munich. The club should have come out and said so, too. But a four-week fine too severe?
City's astonishment is compounded by their almost constant contact with the PFA since the Bayern game. City's football administration officer, Brian Marwood, an ex-PFA chairman, is – or was, until this week – an old friend of Taylor's. The PFA was instrumental 10 years ago in altering the disciplinary system which allowed clubs recourse to more than a fine of two weeks' salary – six weeks maximum, the deal being that the union must agree to the extension.
The PFA has always established that a player – Dennis Wise, Lee Bowyer and others – accepts this penalty before agreeing to it. City were convinced of the PFA's apparent support in this case, too. Taylor's decision to represent the player only compounds the mess for the PFA.
"I think it's a bit strange. Crazy," Sir Alex Ferguson said of Taylor's verdict. Beyond the football bubble, people may just see Taylor, the best-paid union leader in Britain, representing Tevez, one of the best paid players, and conclude that this is a sport without a handle on reality.Reuse content