Saturday 23 November 2019

'Graham Taylor is not a racist and brought out the best in black players'

Poland V England November 13th 1991 (Poland 1 England 1) Graham Taylor and Ian Wright
Poland V England November 13th 1991 (Poland 1 England 1) Graham Taylor and Ian Wright

John Percy

Keith Curle has launched a passionate defence of Graham Taylor and insisted the former England manager should consider legal action over claims he was told not to pick too many black players.

Curle was given his England debut by Taylor in 1992 and has cast doubt over allegations the Football Association attempted to limit the number of black players in the national team.

A new book, Pitch Black, alleges that Taylor told ex-Birmingham City forward Richie Moran during the 1999-2000 season he was under pressure from the FA but Curle is convinced the claims are false.

Curle, the current Carlisle United manager, was capped three times during Taylor's spell in charge of England and suggests the allegations made in the book could face action.

"It will be very interesting to see Graham's response. If somebody made an allegation of that nature that involved my name, I'd be looking down the road of legal action. You'd have to prove these allegations took place or it's libellous," he said.

"Knowing Graham Taylor as I do, I can say 100 per cent that he is not racist and would never have been under any such instructions. As a manager he was meticulous and his attention to detail was so precise that if anything of that nature had been mentioned, he would not have forgotten it.

"Graham gave me my England debut and my three caps were during his time in charge of the national team. He also brought the best out of black players like John Barnes, especially at Watford. John was a figurehead for me when I was growing up and taught me anything was possible.

"My personal opinion is that these conversations may have been had inside the FA in the 1980s and 1970s, because that was how society was in those times. There would have been a time when people were counting how many black players were in football teams.

"Now you would hope society has moved on so players are not judged by the colour of their skin. But I don't think those conversations would have been had when Graham was in charge."

Lord Ouseley, the chairman of Kick It Out, was at a lunch in 2004 at which Taylor was also alleged to have admitted being asked to impose a quota.

He said: "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 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.”

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