Graham Taylor says his record on picking black players stands up to scrutiny.
Former England manager Graham Taylor has denied claims that he was put under pressure by the Football Association to limit the number of black player he selected when in charge of the national team.
Extracts from a book printed in the Guardian allege Taylor told former Birmingham striker Richie Moran of the FA trying to influence his team selection.
Taylor is said to have revealed this during a function at Watford’s ground during the 1999-2000 season when Moran was the guest speaker.
Moran, who says he quit the game because of the racial abuse he suffered, recalls in the book: “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.’”
Taylor had earlier told the Guardian he could not remember the conversation with Moran, though he conceded it might have taken place.
He said: “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.”
Taylor subsequently told BBC Radio 5 live: “I have no memory of that conversation.”
He added: “I never had any problem in regards to team selection concerning black players from the FA.
“My record as regards the selection of black players at international and at club level is there for people to see. To have my name linked with that kind of thing is completely wrong.”
Under Taylor England failed to reach the knockout stage of the European Championships in 1992 and he resigned in November 1993 having failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup in United States.
Moran, speaking to the Guardian on Wednesday night, dismissed Taylor’s denials. “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.”