Paul Stewart column: Why I'm backing the PFA and Gordon Taylor

I wanted to comment  on the situation at the PFA that has arisen due to the intervention of chairman Ben Purkiss.

Friday, 23rd November 2018, 8:49 am
Updated Friday, 23rd November 2018, 1:24 pm
Gordon Taylor has come under fire in some quarters this week
Gordon Taylor has come under fire in some quarters this week

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I have read many comments from high-profile ex-players, some defending the union, some requesting a review.I can’t help but feel some of the players who have criticised the union have done so because they feel that decisions they have made regarding tax avoidance schemes have left them with huge bills that in their opinion should have been paid by the union.Their decisions to enter these schemes were taken after advice from independent financial organisations that had no connection with the union. Therefore why should the PFA bail them out?It would seem that they are using their position in the media to attack the union because they have had their fingers burned and they haven’t based their arguments on facts.My opinion is that Gordon Taylor has proved over the last 37 years that he is more than qualified to head up the union. He has proved over the years that he is an excellent negotiator, doing deals with large corporations like the Premier League and TV companies, bolstering the union’s funds. The work the union does behind the scenes is very rarely reported.Tthe support given to ex-players and their families I can testify to after my disclosure in November 2016.And there is the other work the union does through education programmes and Sporting Chance, helping present and former players to overcome a wide range of problems through clinical, psychological and moral support. The team Gordon has around him play a vital part in the organisation and are always available. They understand the complex needs of past and present players, simply because they mostly are ex-players. I not sure I would have approached Mr Purkiss when I had my issues, as players have a connection with players and an understanding that enables them to feel comfort in speaking openly and frankly to one of their peers.I would not want this family disrupted and the members, such as the past and present players, become a by-product of a large organisation. I have seen recently Paul Gascoigne and Stan Collymore come out in support of the present regime.Yes, they have both had issues over the years and have had support from the union, but when Gordon took the helm I’m sure this was at the forefront of his mind. Players should look at the facts before they take to social media or use their position within the media to criticise.I spoke this week with my former team-mate, David White – who played for Manchester City, Leeds, Sheffield United and England, and asked what his view of the current situation at the PFA was.Since the child sexual abuse scandal hit the headlines in November 2016, Gordon and his team at the PFA have been nothing but supportive – emotionally, practically and financially to myself, SAVE and others involved.Much of the great work and support provided by the PFA goes unnoticed as its very nature is confidential. An ex-player suffering from addiction does not automatically want the support they recieve made public. I hope that players, both current and former, and others who are making their views known publicly on this matter are arming themselves with all the facts. We can all pick out figures from a set of accounts that fit a narrative but to get to the real truth you need to familiarise yourself with all the numbers. The grants paid by the PFA total over £17m, as opposed to just the £565,000 benevolent grants quoted in the media. That changes the narrative significantly. Suddenly grants are eight times the salary of the chief executive as opposed to his salary being four times the value of the grants.