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Paul Struthers: it was the right time to leave before - but the chance to rejoin the PJA is too good an opportunity to pass up

Paul Struthers, PJA chief executive: "I wouldn’t want to still be doing this if I didn't feel there was more we could still achieve"
Paul Struthers: returns as PJA chief executive in new yearCredit: Edward Whitaker

Paul Struthers has described his reappointment as chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association two years after he left the role as "too good an opportunity to pass up". 

He will fill the position vacated by former chief Ian McMahon, who left in June following unrest from jockeys over the handling of issues including the whip review, pay for valets and the closure of racecourse saunas.

Struthers ended his near decade-long tenure as chief executive in 2021 following the conclusion of the disciplinary case involving jockeys Bryony Frost and Robbie Dunne, citing the toll on his personal life. He then established his own sports consultancy firm Moya Sport.

He has been an outspoken critic of the new whip rules and the penalties that had been imposed on riders. In a blog post in June, Struthers called the bans “ridiculously disproportionate” and highlighted what he believed to be the “significant impact” they were having on the finances and mental health of jockeys.

Struthers rejoined the PJA in a consultancy role this summer shortly after McMahon's departure and will take over as chief executive in January.

He said: "Obviously my previous time at the PJA didn't end how I wanted it to, but as difficult as it was, leaving when I did was undoubtedly the right thing to do at the time, both for myself and for the PJA.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of setting up my own consultancy and trying to make Moya Sport a success, but the chance to rejoin the PJA was too good an opportunity to pass up. I am incredibly grateful and honoured to be entrusted with this role for a second time.

"With my prior experience, time to reflect on things I would have done differently and a fresh perspective that my break from the role has allowed, I am excited to be returning to lead the talented and passionate PJA team in representing and supporting the hard-working, dedicated men and women of the weighing room."

Aidan O'Brien, Ryan Moore and Michael Tabor after Ylang Ylang's win in the Fillies' Mile
Ryan Moore: delighted by news of Paul Struthers' return to PJACredit: Edward Whitaker

The announcement has been met with approval across the weighing room after several senior riders pushed for Struthers to return to his post before McMahon's departure.

"I wasn't involved in the recruitment process but was delighted to hear the news that Paul is coming back," said Ryan Moore. "I was disappointed when he left, and I know the weighing room will be as pleased as me that he's back where he belongs."

Three-time British champion jump jockey Brian Hughes added: "This is the best news we've had in some time. It'll be great to have Paul back."

Struthers will officially take over the role on January 2 from interim chief Dale Gibson, who chose not to apply for the position and will revert to his previous role as racing director.

Nick Attenborough, chair of the PJA, said: "As expected, the role attracted a high calibre of candidates but following a thorough and extensive selection process, Paul was the overwhelming choice.

"He obviously brings unrivalled experience to the role but even without his previous time at the PJA he would have been the strongest candidate given his regulatory knowledge, leadership experience and expertise in membership and stakeholder communications, crisis management and PR.

"We look forward to welcoming Paul back in the new year and I'm delighted to be working with him, Dale and the team to create an even stronger PJA. I'd also like to thank Dale and the executive team for their considerable support over the past year during a challenging time for the PJA."

Grade 1-winning jockey Lizzie Kelly, a former member and now a non-executive director of the PJA, played an active role in the recruitment process.

She said: "Paul is incredibly passionate about representing our members and understands the daily challenges faced by jockeys. We look forward to finding our equilibrium under Nick and Paul's leadership."

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Published on 20 November 2023inBritain

Last updated 19:41, 20 November 2023