Reformed sinners called up to repair football's image

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The Independent Football

Tony Adams, the Arsenal captain and England stalwart who rescued his career from alcoholism and a term of imprisonment for drunken driving, has been asked to help rebuild the shattered image of professional football.

Adams and other high-profile players including Paul Gascoigne and Paul Merson whose careers were carried to the edge of destruction by drink and, in Merson's case, drink and drugs, will lead a crusade against the alcohol-fuelled culture that has so disfigured the national game. They will tour clubs across the country urging young professionals to think of the game and their careers.

Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, announced the "educational" initiative yesterday after a four-hour meeting with John Barnwell, his counterpart at the League Managers' Association.

Mr Taylor said: "Everyone in football has to take responsibility for what's been happening, and I'm delighted Tony is willing to help. John Barnwell and I have agreed there is a lot to do and this is one initiative which can do a lot of good."

Mr Taylor and Mr Barnwell will attend a crisis summit meeting of football leaders in the next two weeks with a PFA pledge to continue to waive the limit on the fines clubs can impose on erring players, at present set at two weeks' wages. They will state their case for deducting points from clubs with poor disciplinary records. Mr Taylor added: "Everyone in the game has to take a look at themselves."