PFA chairman Ben Purkiss enters the running to replace Gordon Taylor as union’s chief executive as he looks to push through reforms when 76-year-old finally stands down at the end of the season
- PFA chairman Ben Purkiss has applied to become union’s new chief executive
- He has been instrumental in forcing Gordon Taylor to finally stand down
- Purkiss called for an independent review of the PFA, which took place last year
- Review is understood to have called for sweeping governance reforms
PFA chairman Ben Purkiss has applied to become the union’s new chief executive in a dramatic twist in the battle to succeed Gordon Taylor.
The former Walsall and Port Vale defender has been instrumental in forcing Taylor to finally stand down after 40 years in charge, beginning the process with an explosive interview with Sportsmail three years ago in which he called for an independent review of the PFA, which – following an internal feud – finally took place last year.
The full findings of that review by Sport Resolutions have not been published, but it is understood to have called for sweeping governance reforms at the PFA, which will begin in earnest with Taylor’s departure at the end of the season.
Ben Purkiss (L) has entered the running to replace Gordon Taylor (R) as PFA chief executive
As part of a deal with Taylor to get the PFA to commit to an independent review in 2019, Purkiss and the rest of the players’ management committee had agreed not to seek election for an executive position for a period of five years.
Purkiss is understood to have had a change of heart in recent months however, due to his desire to continue the reforms he set in motion to transform the PFA into a modern and transparent organisation.
The 36-year-old sought permission from the PFA’s newly constituted Players’ Board before finalising his application, with the players showing no hesitation about giving their approval, although there have been rumblings of discontent from others within the organisation and allies of Taylor.
An independent review has called for sweeping changes when the 76-year-old stands down
The chief executive appointment will be made by an independent selection panel assembled last month comprising Darren Hardman, Trevor Johnson, Ebru Koksal and Geoff Thompson, who were chosen following an extensive search process led by former Manchester United captain Gary Neville, Oxford United defender John Mousinho and lawyer Edward Canty.
The PFA were criticised by their own equalities department last year for picking three white men to recruit the selection panel, but despite these misgivings the trio appointed a diverse and high-powered group, with Hardman the only white male among them.
The panel will be assisted in the chief executive search by City headhunters the Savannah Group, with applications closing on 19 February.
Purkiss played as a defender for the likes of Swindon (pictured) and York City during his career
Purkiss’ willingness to effectively fall on his own sword to secure Taylor’s departure in 2019 caused considerable disquiet within the game, and his U-turn is likely to be welcomed by many players.
‘You do not know what’s going to happen in four-five years’ time,’ Purkiss said at the time. ‘I hope the next chief executive is the right appointment and is able to lead this organisation for a period of time.
‘I obviously love football and I do believe there are areas where players need support. So I care passionately and would like to stay in football in some capacity.’
The selection panel will begin interviewing candidates next month with a view to making an appointment in April.
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