LONDON (Reuters) - Former Reading, Stoke City and Portsmouth forward Dave Kitson launched a bid to replace players' union chief Gordon Taylor on Thursday and said the body's response to the COVID-19 crisis was 'an absolute embarrassment'.
Taylor, 75, has been at the helm of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) since 1981 but said in March last year he would step down after a review of the organisation's governance.
He has faced criticism over his salary with more than 200 former and current players signing a letter in November 2018 calling for him to go.
Kitson, 40, told Sky Sports News he had been gathering information from players, managers and officials at the PFA for more than a year.
"In the leagues, wherever you go from the Premier League into non-league, it's very, very difficult to find a good word about the PFA at the moment and that just should not be the case," he said.
"The people that I speak to... are all in agreement, whether it's me or someone else, that the time is certainly overdue for a change at the PFA."
Kitson, who was called out by some black players for comments he made when England winger Raheem Sterling suffered racial abuse in 2018, criticised particularly the PFA's response to the pandemic.
"They told players not to defer any money," he said.
"(Liverpool's) Jordan Henderson took it upon himself, to get together, talk with (Manchester United's) Harry Maguire and the other representatives at Premier League clubs to do the Players Together initiative, which is absolutely fantastic.
"That should have been led, from start to finish, by the PFA, instead of releasing pointless statements that no one cares about. They've just shown how irrelevant and out of touch they are at this time."
The PFA were not immediately available for comment.
Taylor has accused the government of unfairly singling out footballers for their high earnings during the pandemic when other well-paid professions escaped their scrutiny.
Premier League players, facing pressure to accept cuts, launched a fund through their own collective player initiative to raise money for National Health Service (NHS) charities to help tackle the crisis.
Some have agreed wage deferrals while Arsenal players have agreed a 12.5% cut.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)