New blow for PFA amid Gordon Taylor row as Paul Elliott resigns again

Fresh blow for PFA amid Gordon Taylor row as Paul Elliott resigns AGAIN as trustee over breach of charity commission regulations related to his debt repayment

  • Paul Elliott resigns from PFA for second time in a fresh blow to the organisation 
  • It is the latest hit for its embattled long-term president, Gordon Taylor
  • Elliott was previously forced to resign in 2013 over abusive comments in a text

Matt Lawton

and
Laura Lambert For The Daily Mail

The crisis at the Professional Footballers’ Association has deepened after Paul Elliott resigned from the union’s charity over what is understood to be a clear breach of Charity Commission regulations.

Elliott, who is also the chairman of the Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, has had his position as a trustee of the PFA Charity ‘terminated’ this week, according to company accounts.

Last week the Charity Commission responded to concerns raised by the current political crisis at the PFA by confirming it had opened a regulatory compliance case into the PFA Charity.

And now Elliott appears to have quit in anticipation of a personal financial matter being discovered.

A Sportsmail investigation has uncovered the fact that the former Chelsea star, who has been at the forefront of anti-discrimination campaigns in English football, holds an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), which is a legal agreement between an individual and creditors over debt repayment. That is one of the grounds on which charity trustees can be disqualified.

Paul Elliot has resigned from the PFA for the second time in a fresh blow to the organisation

Paul Elliot has resigned from the PFA for the second time in a fresh blow to the organisation

It is the latest hit for the PFA and its embattled long-term president, Gordon Taylor

It is the latest hit for the PFA and its embattled long-term president, Gordon Taylor

PFA STATEMENT 

Paul Elliott made the PFA aware that he was exploring a particular financial arrangement to help him through a difficult period.

The PFA queried the arrangement to determine whether it would impact upon his eligibility as a trustee. However, Paul had received legal advice that confirmed that the arrangement would not impact upon the eligibility criteria.

Following a review of this advice, clarification was received from the Charity Commission, who felt that the arrangement would put Paul in breach of the eligibility criteria. With this new advice, Paul decided to tender his resignation as a trustee in accordance with Charity Commission and PFA guidance.

Paul has been a valued trustee and we wish him well while he works through these difficult issues.

According to the Individual Insolvency Register, Elliott’s IVA was arranged in September 2016 and yet he has somehow been allowed to remain a PFA trustee in a situation that raises further questions about how the union has been run by Taylor.

Official guidance from the Charity Commission highlights various reasons why a charity trustee may be disqualified.

In a document titled ‘The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do’, under a section on disqualification, it states: ‘You must not act as a trustee if you are disqualified under the Charities Act, unless your disqualification has been waived by the Commission. Reasons for disqualification include if you… are an undischarged bankrupt (or subject to sequestration in Scotland), or have a current composition or arrangement including an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) with your creditors’. 

PAUL ELLIOTT STATEMENT 

‘As has been well-documented, I was victim to a financial fraud several years ago, which saw me lose a significant amount of money.

‘As part of my efforts to clear my financial obligations – which I take incredibly seriously – I explored entering into a financial arrangement that I knew might impact on my eligibility as a trustee of the PFA.

‘On seeking initial legal advice, I was informed that the arrangement would not impact upon the eligibility criteria. However, following further clarification from the Charity Commission, it was confirmed that it would cause an issue.

‘I therefore chose to resign my position as a trustee. The PFA has always been a big part of my life, while this was a difficult decision, I would not wish to do anything to undermine its great work supporting players and promoting diversity in football.’ 

Elliott was previously forced to resign in 2013 over abusive comments made in a text message

Elliott was previously forced to resign in 2013 over abusive comments made in a text message

It goes on to explain: ‘If any of the current or new disqualification reasons apply to you, you may be able to get your disqualification lifted (or ‘waived’) by the Commission. The Commission will carefully consider whether granting a waiver is appropriate, although there are some situations where it has no power to grant a waiver – for example, where a trustee is disqualified as a company director.’

Sportsmail has sought to establish through various avenues whether Elliott was granted special dispensation to remain as a trustee of the PFA Charity.

The Charity Commission refused to comment on the issue, while Elliott himself thought the situation had been resolved by the PFA and therefore meant he could remain a trustee. 

Elliott was made a CBE in 2012 for his work promoting diversity in English football

Elliott was made a CBE in 2012 for his work promoting diversity in English football

He played football for 14-years with clubs including Aston Villa, Celtic and Chelsea

He played football for 14-years with clubs including Aston Villa, Celtic and Chelsea

WHAT IS AN IVA? 

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a legally binding agreement between an individual and their creditors to pay back debts in a set amount each month, usually over five years.

An IVA is a form of insolvency but it is different from bankruptcy. Once an IVA is completed the record of it will be taken off the insolvency register. But if an individual fails to comply with the terms of an IVA they will be declared bankrupt.

The Charity Commission suggests that an individual who has an IVA is disqualified from being a trustee of a charity – this is due to the potential for misuse of charity funds to repay an individual’s personal debt.

Source: Citizens’ Advice Bureau 

Elliott had been involved with the PFA Charity at various points since it was formed in January 2013.

He was listed as one of the founding trustees – though his name was incorrectly spelled ‘Paul Elliot’ on the forms – but then resigned in March that year.

He was appointed as a trustee again in September 2015, though this time his name was registered by Companies House as ‘Paul Marcellous Ellion’. He had remained in the position since then.

A Companies House document confirms that he is no longer a trustee as of Thursday this week. It states: ‘Termination of appointment of Paul Marcellous Ellion as a director on 29 November 2018’.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said last week: ‘The public rightly expect charities to live their values, acting at all times to maximise their positive impact on beneficiaries. We have opened a regulatory compliance case into the Professional Footballers’ Association Charity to examine concerns about the governance arrangements and to clarify a number of issues relating to the charity’s financial arrangements and accounts. We will be engaging with trustees on these issues and cannot comment further at this time.’

Clearly the PFA Charity trustees are unclear on many governance issues at the union, with Garth Crooks arguing that chief executive Taylor did not need to stand for re-election when trade union regulations suggest he should have done so every five years. Taylor seems to have remained in power without a challenger for 37 years.

It is the responsibility of each charity to check their trustees once they are in post, but if the Charity Commission becomes aware of a trustee who has an IVA in place, they will take action.

WHO IS PAUL ELLIOTT? 

Elliott in action for Chelsea in 1992

Elliott in action for Chelsea in 1992

Elliott had a 14-year professional football career, as a defender with Charlton, Luton, Aston Villa, Pisa, Celtic and Chelsea. He also played three times for England under-21s.

He suffered a serious knee injury on 1992 and never returned to playing, and moved into work with the PFA and anti-racism charity Kick It Out.

He was made an MBE in 2003 for his work with young players and in anti-racism, and a CBE in 2012, but was forced to leave the PFA and Kick It Out in 2013 after ‘abusive comments’ in a text to fellow player Richard Rufus.

Gordon Taylor said at the time: ‘We have accepted Paul’s resignation given the circumstances, but we must place on record that Paul has played a very valuable role in the good work that the PFA has done throughout his tenure and we thank him most sincerely for his contribution.’

Elliott returned to work for the FA’s Inclusion Advisory board in 2014.


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