Friday 21 October 2016

Former England boss Graham Taylor denies he was told to cap number of black players in national team

Graham Taylor
Graham Taylor

Former England manager Graham Taylor has dismissed claims that two Football Association members tried to cap the number of black players in the national team during his time in charge.

Taylor insisted he would never have stood for such a demand, after a new book claimed he had privately revealed the approach in conversation with an anti-racism campaigner.

The claim that the FA members approached Taylor is made in a new book titled 'Pitch Black: The Story of Black British Footballers', written by Emy Onuora, the brother of former Huddersfield, Swindon and Gillingham striker Iffy Onuora.

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.

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.'"

At that time, Taylor was manager of Watford, but he managed England from after the 1990 World Cup to November 1993.

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, 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 about it.

"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."

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