You’re DELUDED! Sportsmail’s Chris Sutton fires back at outgoing PFA chief Gordon Taylor in dementia row after claims players’ union have been the ‘world’s best’ in tackling disease
Departing PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor has been accused of ‘delusion’ and ‘missing the point’ after he claimed on Wednesday that his union have been the world’s best at tackling dementia.
Following criticism of him at a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday Taylor defended himself and his union, telling the BBC in a statement: ‘I believe we have done more than any other players’ union, sporting union or trade union on this issue when this is also a worldwide problem for governments and all populations, health services and neurologists alike.’
But Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton, who gave evidence to a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on Tuesday in which he accused Taylor of having ‘blood on his hands’ for ignoring the issue after Jeff Astle’s death in 2002, hit back, saying: ‘He must be deluded to respond to what happened in front of the DCMS Committee on Tuesday by saying the PFA have been the best union in the world in tackling this issue. It’s utter delusion.’
Chris Sutton took issue with Gordon Taylor’s defence of how the PFA are tackling dementia
Outgoing PFA chief Taylor has been criticised for failing to handle the issue adequately
Taylor described the PFA as the ‘world’s best’ in tackling dementia and the risks of heading
Astle’s daughter, Dawn, thought research was ongoing between the PFA and FA after a coroner declared her father had died aged 59 as a result of heading the ball. It was only 12 years later in 2014, when Sportsmail journalist Sam Peters contacted Dawn, that she discovered the study had been shelved.
Taylor added in his BBC statement that he had invited Sutton to the PFA offices to see the work they do — an invitation which was not taken up — and that their members are always top priority.
In response, Sutton, whose father Mike died in December after suffering from dementia, told Sportsmail on Wednesday: ‘With his statement, Gordon has completely and utterly missed the point.
Sutton feels that Taylor’s defence is not fair to campaigners such as Dawn Astle, who was recently appointed in an advisory role by the PFA in a major step towards tackling dementia
Sutton’s father, Mike, who was an ex-footballer, died last year after a long battle with dementia
‘He’s accepting zero responsibility in that statement.
‘Instead he’s telling everybody what a great job he’s done. How do you think Dawn Astle will feel reading that? Or John Stiles? Or Mark Phoenix? Or Penny Watson? All of these people have come forward with their stories.
‘In saying this is a “worldwide problem”, he’s passing the buck.
‘Gordon says the PFA offered me personal help with my dad. There was a phone call — once — and nothing came of it. That period of 12 years when Dawn did not know the research into football’s link to head trauma had been stopped was a catastrophic error of judgment.
‘Just think where we could have been with research now, or how many lives could have been potentially saved, had that not been swept under the rug. That’s why I said there’s blood on his hands.’
Sportsmail’s dementia campaign was launched last November and has received backing from former footballers, as well as MPs