EXCLUSIVE: Labour MP Chris Evans urges Football Association to issue an apology to Don Revie’s family for making the Leeds legend ‘one of the first victims of cancel culture’
- Labour MP Chris Evans has written a book about the life of Leeds hero Don Revie
- Revie was the manager of Leeds during their success in the 1960s and 70s
- Evans believes Revie was persecuted by the FA for quitting as England boss
- He has written a letter to the FA asking them to apologise to Revie’s family
A prominent Labour MP is calling on the Football Association to issue an apology to Don Revie’s family for making the late, great Leeds manager ‘one of the first victims of cancel culture.’
Chris Evans, the Shadow Minister For Defence Procurement, has written to interim FA chairman Peter McCormick urging him to evoke the spirit of Christmas by bringing ‘posthumous justice’ to Revie.
Evans, fresh from his intensive investigation of Revie’s life and times for a voluminous and definitive biography, firmly believes that the creator of the magnificent Leeds team of the late 60s and early 70s was persecuted vindictively by the FA for quitting as England manager during a failed 1978 World Cup qualifying campaign and moving to Dubai as head coach of the United Arab Emirates.
Labour MP Chris Evans has called on the FA to apologise to Leeds great Don Revie (third left)
In his letter to McCormick the Welsh-born MP for the Islwyn constituency writes: ‘Despite simply doing what so many other people do every day, resign from a job to take employment elsewhere, the FA under the leadership of (Professor) Sir Harold Thompson charged Mr Revie with bringing the game into disrepute.’
The FA also prohibited the man who had transformed a run-down Elland Road into the home of one of England’s pre-eminent clubs from being employed in any capacity under their jurisdiction for ten years.
Although Revie won a High Court action to overturn that suspension, Evans reports: ‘There is evidence that the FA did everything (they could) to discredit him. Such as writing to the then 92 League clubs to remind them of the ban. They also attempted to obstruct Liverpool, the 1977 European Cup Winners, from (playing) a friendly in the Emirates simply because Mr Revie was working there.’
In his book Evans supports Revie’s contention that Thompson was about to sack him and that, as he told me at the time: ‘I have a family to support so I have to accept the offer from the Middle East.’
Revie also confided that his relationship with the FA chairman had been broken permanently by Sir Harold’s inappropriate touching of his wife Elsie under the table at an official banquet. That was consistent with reports of similar misconduct by Thompson, some involving air stewardesses on England flights.
Says Evans: ‘It defies belief that the old FA turned a blind eye and did nothing about that behaviour. This is no fault of Mr McCormick and the current administration but it is within their gift this Christmas to put matters right.
‘The fallout from Mr Revie’s resignation and the court case ensured that someone who contributed so much to the game as we know it now became one of the very first victims of cancel culture. Long before the phrase came into being.’
Revie was subjected to a media witch-hunt following his departure to the desert. Here I must declare an interest as he gave to me the story which occupied front and back of the Daily Mail for the best part of a week, as one of the biggest sports exclusives in Fleet Street history.
That said, I concur with Evans’ forensic conclusion that Revie was ‘completely innocent’ of sensationalist allegations of attempted match-fixing during his trophy-laden seasons at Leeds United, which were ‘without foundation or credible evidence.’
We are not alone in that conviction. Sir Alex Ferguson, Kevin Keegan, Denis Law – and of course the players of his golden age at Leeds – were among numerous members of football royalty who attended Revie’s funeral in 1989. But not a single representative of the FA,
Evans writes to McCormick: ‘Mr Revie passed away after a brave fight against motor-neurone disease (but) not before being subjected to appalling, baseless accusations of dishonesty. It is my sincere hope the FA will look to issue an apology.’
Evans feels Revie (right) was made one of the earliest victims of cancel culture by the FA
Evans is the author of a new book about the life of former Leeds and England boss Revie
Partly with such churlish pettiness in mind Evans seeks that offical gesture especially for Don’s daughter Kim and for Rita Revie, the partner in life and in the global SoccerEx Convention company with Revie’s son Duncan, who died prematurely five years ago. Says Evans: ‘The family deserve to freely celebrate Mr Revie as a football visionary.’
For what it may be worth, this is the kernel of my review of Don Revie, The Biography: ‘This meticulously researched and expertly crafted exploration pf the genius and human generosity of Don Revie lifts the veil of controversy from the legacy of one of football’s greatest managers.’
If no-one else, I hope the FA are reading in this season of compassion. The Football Association have been contacted for comment.