The Professional Footballers Association’s charity is facing a forensic and potentially extremely embarrassing investigation into the way it is run.
Prompted by serious concerns, the Charity Commission will look into whether the PFAC’s activities have been exclusively charitable; whether any of its trustees has received unauthorised benefits or even whether they’ve broken the law.
The charity watchdog began scrutinising the PFAC’s affairs a little over a year ago and has come to the conclusion its management requires a detailed examination.
During their initial investigation they spoke to trustees, members of the PFA and other related but as yet unnamed parties.
This led them to question the relationship between the charity and the players union and how potential conflicts of interest have been managed.
The PFAC has seven trustees; they include the PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor and former players Garth Crooks, Brendan Batson and Chris Powell.
If the commission finds any of its concerns founded, it has any number of sanctions at its disposal, one of the most severe being removal of all the charity’s trustees from office.
Stephen Grenfell, Head of Investigations, Monitoring and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said: “The public rightly expect charities to operate to the highest standards – across all they do. Serious concerns have been raised about the way the Professional Footballers’ Association charity is run.”
Last year, facing widespread criticism and a petition from PFA members, Taylor announced he would finally stand down after 38 years but only after a QC-led examination of the players’ union’s finances.
That has yet to be completed.
Taylor is the best paid union official in the UK; his £2.2 million salary has often been widely scrutinised and is measured against his organisation’s hand-outs.
In the last financial year the PFAC gave a meagre £125,000 to research into former players’ dementia and less than one million to combat racism in the game, despite the fact the PFA has more than £50 million sitting in the bank.
In its latest accounts, for the year ending June 30th 2018, staff costs have increased to more than four million pounds, travel costs have jumped to £340,000 and investment managers have received £275,000.
In a statement today the PFA said ‘’The Trustees have continued to co-operate fully, openly and transparently with the Charity Commission and will continue to do so throughout this process.
"The Professional Footballers’ Association Charity Trustees are all committed to adopting the highest possible standards in administering, governing and the management of the Charity and will continue to work with the Charity Commission.”