Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Ex-England boss Graham Taylor denies he was told to limit number of black players in national team

Photo: PA

Former England manager Graham Taylor has refuted claims he was asked by the Football Association to limit the number of black players he selected during his time in charge of the national team.

Taylor stated he wouldn't have complied with any such demand, something which his selections prove.

The revelation is documented in a new book 'Pitch Black: The Story of Black British Footballers', written by Emy Onuora, who claims Taylor told an anti-racism campaigner about the FA hierarchy trying to impose the rule.

In the book, Onuora writes that former Birmingham striker Richie Moran, who became an anti-racism campaigner after facing abuse in his career, spoke to Taylor at an event held in the 1999-2000 season by Watford Football Club.

Taylor selected a number of black players, including Carlton Palmer. Credit: PA

Moran is quoted as saying: "Graham Taylor came up to me and said: 'Look, I'm going to tell you something ... I'm never going to admit it, I will be sued for libel.' He said: 'When I was manager of England I was called in by two members of the FA, who I won't name ...' I volunteered two names. He said: 'I'm not prepared to say, but I was told in no uncertain terms not to pick too many black players for the national side.'"

Taylor managed England from 1990 to 1993, which was a relatively unsuccessful period for the national team.

Asked about the claims, Taylor told BBC Radio Five Live: "It has taken me by complete surprise because I cannot remember anything about it at all.

"Certainly never during my time at the Football Association I had no FA people coming up to me and telling me which team to pick and to pick less black players. I would have remembered that."

Taylor had three years as England manager. Credit: PA

Taylor, now 70, told the Guardian he could not remember the conversation with Moran.

He said: "That is not me trying to evade it - and it also doesn't mean I didn't say it - but if anyone looks at my record with club and country it would be obvious to everyone anyway that I didn't follow what was apparently said. If anyone looks at my record, I could never be accused of blocking the way for any black player."

He added in the BBC radio interview: "I have no memory of that conversation (with Moran). There certainly was an event at Watford. I can remember that, but I certainly have no memory of a conversation about black players."

He said of the possibility of any conversation with FA members about restricting black players: "That is one of the things you're never going to forget. I'm so annoyed ab

The FA will come underfire over the revelations. Credit: PA

"They've gone ahead - as I understand it, what I've said to them privately has just got out. Or what I'm accused of saying to them privately, which I deny and can't remember it, they've gone out publicly and said it and yet they're saying themselves it was said to them privately.

"Oh it's very private then to publish a book about it, isn't it?

"There was never any interruption, there was never anyone coming in and asking, 'Why have you selected him?'

"I never had any problems regarding team selection concerning black players from the Football Association."

Lord Ouseley, left, has backed up Taylor. Credit: PA

Kick it out chairman Lord Ouseley said in a statement: "I have no recollection of Graham Taylor making the comments which are being reported in the media from Kick It Out’s 10 year anniversary lunch back in 2004.

“I am of the view that those sorts of attitudes, whether expressed overtly or kept privately, would have existed. Racial prejudice, discriminatory practices and institutional exclusion were much more prominent during the 90s than now, but are not yet altogether extinct, in spite of positive efforts on several fronts.

“Kick It Out's focus has been and continues to be that of changing biased attitudes and discriminatory behaviour to achieve fair, equal and inclusive outcomes in football and that is our priority today and in future."

More on this story