Outgoing Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has endorsed successor Maheta Molango, and urged all members to get behind his appointment.
Former Brighton striker Molango will take charge of the organisation after a recruitment search conducted by an independent advisory panel.
Current PFA members start to receive their ballots on Monday with 41 candidates, including Tyrone Mings and Tom Heaton, contesting 13 players’ board positions.
Molango and the four non-executive positions will not appear on the ballot and will be uncontested candidates elected to their position.
“I’m looking forward to meeting Maheta, and I have faith in the process’ rigour and competitiveness,” Taylor wrote in The Times.
“He has a formidable CV and is widely recognised as one of Spain’s top sports lawyers.
“Fluent in five languages, vastly experienced in representing football’s elite performers and a playing career that includes time in England’s lower tiers, I’m confident Maheta will relate to players at every level of our membership.
“At the age of 38, he has two more years of experience than I did when I first took the role.
“As my chapter closes and I pass the baton on, I do so with hope and optimism that we will continue to evolve in our strength and purpose, guiding our members and shaping football as a force for good.
“We are working hard to finalise Maheta’s appointment and I will offer him my full support and encourage all our members to get behind the new players’ board and their new chief executive.”
There has already been pushback to Molango’s imminent arrival and Gary Neville – who helped pick the non-executive directors who recommended him – criticised the ‘xenophobic’ response.
Neville took to Instagram to call out what he saw as ‘negative undertones’, saying, “It’s clear that football is resisting this appointment through feeding journalists with negative information about the candidate – what he can’t do, why he shouldn’t be there, the process is wrong.”
He further went on to explain why he felt he had to speak out on the Gary Neville podcast, adding: “I thought it was an awful reaction. I saw it when it first broke and thought there was a bit of the language I didn’t like, it was a bit derogatory, a little bit disparaging, almost like ‘who is this guy, how’s he got the job?'”
Switzerland-born Molango scored 12 seconds into his debut for Brighton – a 3-2 defeat at Reading in 2004 – but that is as good as it got on the south coast.
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Brief spells at Lincoln, Oldham, Wrexham and Grays followed, giving Molango experience of different levels of the game.
His career as a labour lawyer leaves him well placed to understand the role of the union and to defend the rights of the players.
Molango – fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, German and English – passed the New York bar exam in 2011 and has worked at law firm Baker McKenzie since 2007. It was there he co-founded the company’s sports practice and offered advice to clubs, agents and federations.
Twice named as one of the best sports lawyers in Spain by international rankings company Chambers and Partners, Molango was seconded to Atletico Madrid as legal counsel in 2015 – ahead of their 12-month transfer embargo in 2016.
He focused on contract and transfer negations and in two windows helped oversee 30 deals, including the sale of Mario Mandzukic to Juventus, Filipe Luiz’s return from Chelsea, Yannick Carrasco’s switch from Monaco and Antoine Griezmann’s new deal.
Previously a part-time scout for Charlton, Molango had already negotiated Mesut Ozil’s termination deal from Real Madrid ahead of his move to Arsenal in 2013 after being asked to help on the Spanish side by the German’s lawyers.
He has represented Toby Alderweireld, ex-Leicester striker Leonardo Ulloa and former Walsall and Middlesbrough playmaker Emmanuel Ledesma.
Molango has negotiated with Tottenham owner Daniel Levy and Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia, giving him perspective from the top to the bottom of football’s pyramid.
His legal work eventually saw him appointed Real Mallorca chief executive in 2016 following the 20 million euro takeover by former NBA star Steve Nash and Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver.
In four years he changed the fortunes at Son Moix as they returned from Segunda B to LaLiga in successive seasons. It was the first time a Spanish club had won back-to-back promotions having been relegated to the third tier.
Mallorca went from losing 8m euros a year to turning a 17m euro profit, while Molango helped reduce their debt by 27m euros before leaving in February 2020.
His latest role as co-director of FIFA’s club management program helps train executives, with speakers ranging from Arsene Wenger to Fabio Cannavaro.
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