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Not ‘too many’ black players for England

7 May 2015 16:49


The British Football Association told a former England manager not to pick “too many” black players, according to a new book by Emy Onuora.

The book on racism within the sport, entitled Pitch Black narrates a conversation in which the former manager says senior members of the FA tried to pressure him into keeping the team largely white.

Pitch Black, written by Emy Onuora, claims the Football Association tried to impose an unofficial quota system on the number of black players.

The conversation is believed to have been between a 1990’s Birmingham City player, Richie Moran and then England manager.

“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.”

Former England manager, Graham Taylor denied being under pressure to limit black players

When asked about the conversation, Taylor claimed he could not remember it taking place: “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.”

However, he later backtracked his uncertainty and said: “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.”

“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.”

Taylor: I never had any problems regarding team selection concerning black players from the FA.

“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.”

“I’m going to have to take some form of legal advice here. To have my name linked into this kind of thing is totally wrong.”

The British Football Association

Moran, who left the sport after continuous racial abuse, refuted Taylor’s denials saying:

“I have a very vivid memory of the conversation. My then girlfriend said to me after he’d told me ‘who was that?’. I said: ‘it’s the former England manager!’ . She said: ‘Well why did he tell you that then?’.

“I’ve mentioned it on numerous occasions, and I’ve even had a cease and desist letter, I think seven years ago, from the FA. But I’m happy for them to sue me for two reasons. One: I don’t have any personal assets for them to take. And two: I’m telling the truth.”

“I’m not saying for one moment that Graham Taylor had any intentions … all I’m saying is that that is a conversation I had with him. I have no reason to make it up.”

The FA has chosen not to comment on the book.

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