Ben Purkiss: PFA chairman warns players' union needs to 'evolve'

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Ben Purkiss in action for Swindon Town
Ben Purkiss (left) - pictured playing for Swindon - was elected PFA chairman in November 2017

The Professional Footballers' Association will become "obsolete" if it doesn't "evolve", says the union's chairman Ben Purkiss.

The Walsall defender - who was elected in November 2017 - has called for an independent review to modernise the organisation.

Better communication with players and mental health are two key areas on 34-year-old Purkiss' agenda.

"The PFA needs to evolve otherwise you get left behind," he told BBC Sport.

"We have discussed the need for evolution and the rapid pace the world is changing, and the pace at which football and footballers are changing.

"If you do not continue on that path, eventually other organisations will fill your space. From there, where do you go? You kind of become obsolete."

It comes after the PFA's long-serving chief executive Gordon Taylor - who has been in the role for 37 years - reportedly raised concernsexternal-link over Purkiss' eligibility as chairman because the former Port Vale, Swindon and York City full-back is a non-contract player at Walsall.

However, Purkiss argues that non-contract players have always been PFA members and intends to remain in his position, adding he has the full support of the union's management committee.

"We had a meeting a few weeks ago. We had a full and frank discussion," he said.

"I left the room, enabled them to talk about the direction they wanted to take the organisation, came back into the room and received unanimous approval from the management committee."

Ben Purkiss tweet saying: "I have a duty to act in the best interests of the PFA. Sometimes you have to make a stand for what is right. Football is rapidly evolving, the players are rapidly evolving and the PFA needs to evolve too. Players past, present and future need a PFA for the modern player."
Purkiss outlined how he believes the PFA could benefit from modernisation on Twitter on Thursday

Purkiss believes the PFA needs to change in order to better serve "modern footballers" because of the "different challenges" the current era of the sport brings.

"Modern footballers are markedly different from the footballer of five, 10, 15 years ago. The game is changing at a rapid pace," he said.

"Look at the Manchester City team at the top of the table, their style of play and calibre of player is so much different to five or 10 years ago. With that brings different challenges for the players.

"I would like to see us having a better relationship with the players. I would like to see a situation where they truly understand what we can do for them, not just in times of need but taking the proactive approach.

"Going into dressing rooms, talking to the younger players, helping them financially, so - for all the players who do fall by the wayside and have their dreams shattered - we are there, they know exactly who to come to and they can come to us straight away."

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