PFA chief Maheta Molango is blasted by John Stiles and Chris Sutton over dementia campaign

Dementia campaigners John Stiles and Chris Sutton have hit out at new PFA chief Maheta Molango.

Molango named the pair – whose fathers were both professional footballers who passed away after suffering from the disease – and claimed he had ‘learned so much from them’, in a recent interview.

Both Sutton and Stiles, who remain deeply critical of the PFA’s response to the crisis, have reacted with ‘disbelief’ and have now written to the chief executive, who replaced controversial predecessor Gordon Taylor last July, to make their feelings clear.

PFA chief Maheta Molango has come under fire over English football’s dementia problem

Chris Sutton has hit out at Molango for his handling of the dementia campaign

As has John Stiles

Chris Sutton (left) & John Stiles have hit out at him for his handling of the dementia campaign

‘I could not believe it,’ said Stiles, whose father, World Cup winner Nobby, died in October 2020. ‘The fact he has brought us into it when we’re actually disgusted with his conduct is staggering. He is doing the opposite of what needs to be done.’

Sutton, son of former Norwich midfielder Mike, who passed away in December 2020, agreed. ‘He used our names to paint a picture that is far removed from reality,’ he said.

Last month it emerged that Molango, 39, would not be releasing the potentially explosive independent report into Taylor’s reign, claiming that the players had told him that they instead wished to move on.

After he repeated those comments, Stiles questioned his motives. ‘If he doesn’t release the report he’s as bad as Taylor,’ he said. ‘He’s totally compromised. Where is his integrity? He claims that players don’t want the report published, what about the 200 ex-players who signed the open letter demanding it be released? I think he’s trying to palm us off.’

Molango arrived with promises that football would finally tackle the scandal that has seen the families of ex-players, whom studies found to be three-and-a-half times more likely to die from a neurodegenerative brain disease, go without assistance following diagnosis.

Sportsmail pundit Sutton (pictured with father Mike before his passing in December 2020)

Sportsmail pundit Sutton (pictured with father Mike before his passing in December 2020)

But Sutton believes there has been little action. ‘What’s changed since he got there?’ he asked. ‘Families in need are still without support. Jimmy Robson (the ex-Burnley star who died in December) has gone now so that’s one less to worry about. Where’s the action? To not release the report beggars belief. Where’s the transparency? We feel like we are hitting a brick wall.’

The searing letter, seen by this newspaper, provides a damning commentary on Molango’s first six months in charge and raises key questions over his behaviour. In it, both men tell the Swiss-born lawyer, who played for Brighton and Oldham, that they are ‘appalled’ by his failure to publish the report. ‘This conduct is unacceptable,’ it states. ‘To seek to hide behind a report summary and to claim to have implemented its recommendations is pathetic.’

The men, themselves former players, add that they believe a cover-up is under way and that Taylor’s ‘cronies’ who remain at the PFA have been given a ‘free pass’. They also describe the PFA’s approach to dementia as ‘incompetent, cynical, cowardly and disingenuous’. 

Molango has also drawn criticism for deciding not to take a position as a trustee of the cash-rich PFA Charity, which is subject to an ongoing inquiry by the Charity Commission. The letter describes that move as ‘a cynical ploy’. 

‘You know it is totally incorrect to claim, as you did (in the interview) that the charity is entirely separate from the Union,’ it states. ‘You share the same Finance Director (£350,000-a-year Taylor acolyte Darren Wilson).’ 

World Cup winner Nobby Stiles' brain was found to contain CTE, triggered by repetitive head trauma

World Cup winner Nobby Stiles’ brain was found to contain CTE, triggered by repetitive head trauma

Molango has previously claimed that families of sufferers have told him they do not wish to ‘get everything paid’ and that ‘they are saying help is bridge the gap’ when it comes to care home costs. ‘This just cannot be true,’ the letter responds, challenging Molango to provide evidence behind his claim.

A PFA spokesperson said: ‘Maheta has said in interviews that he knows families have previously felt let down by the PFA and that he’s committed to having difficult conversations with those who have campaigned hardest on the issue of dementia, such as John and Chris, to learn first-hand about its impact and to help shape the PFA’s future approach. 

‘Obviously it’s disappointing that John and Chris have felt the need to write this letter. We don’t agree with the claims being made but they are of course entitled to their views.

‘However, there has been positive acknowledgement from families about the progress that has been made in recent months. There is much work still to be done and it’s important that progress continues.

‘We absolutely understand that this is a deeply personal and sensitive subject, but we hope that John and Chris will work with the PFA and the other authorities on a constructive approach to helping ensure positive change on dementia care in football.’

Molango has refused to release a review looking into conduct of the PFA under Gordon Taylor

Molango has refused to release a review looking into conduct of the PFA under Gordon Taylor