Niall Quinn backs Jon Walters for PFA role
Quinn believes former striker could connect with players at all levels of the league ladder
Niall Quinn believes Jon Walters would be a good choice as chief executive of the PFA. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Niall Quinn says he admires Jon Walters’ decision to enter the race to succeed Gordon Taylor as chief executive of the English players’ union, the PFA, and believes that the former Republic of Ireland international could help the organisation to better connect with dressingrooms at all levels of the game.
Speaking at an event to promote the return of Virgin’s Champions League coverage this week and a two-part extended interview with him, Bootroom to Boardroom - the first-half of which airs on Wednesday night on Virgin Two - Quinn says he feels the union needs to sell itself better both to its own membership and the wider public. Walters would, he believes, have a strong feel for that side of the role after having featured for clubs at different levels of the league ladder.
“I read that article (an interview with the London Times in which Walters declared his interest) and it was almost like looking at him on the pitch. He was so into it. He obviously really wants this; he feels it’s the route he wants to take after football.
“Jonathan is very driven and I wish him well with it. It’s almost noble of him given that he would have made a lot of money but he’s not just sitting back, looking forward to next being on holiday and happy out to look at all his investments. That he’s put the effort in to go this far I think is great and good luck to him.”
Quinn was an active member of the union during his own playing days and believes that while the union is financially secure now thanks to its share of TV revenues, strikes which helped to secure the departure of Taylor - a controversial figure, not least because of his reported €2.2 million annual salary - were a key moment for the organisation and its members.
“I feel that I’m okay to speak on this after having led the strike for the PFA twice, in the Man City dressing room one year and Sunderland a few years later,” he says. “There’s a seismic change taking place with the departure of the CEO and it’s a crossroads for the PFA.
“The feeling among the players at that time was that we had to protect it (the share of TV money) for players who would miss out, players who would need it in the future and the game has changed.
“I think people look at football now and just think of the guys at the top end but I think there are so many players hitting hard times, for whatever reason, all the way down the ladder. He (Walters) is very focused on the players - naturally it’s a players’ association - but he’s very focused on visiting dressingrooms, urging people to understand the PFA a bit more and making it a more important organisation. I think that’s bang on.”