Clarke Carlisle has defended the PFA following recent criticism directed at the trade union by Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio.
As well as confirming that he had fined seven of his squad in the week leading up to the game, Di Canio also criticised Phil Bardsley after pictures emerged of the defender lying on a casino floor covered in £50 notes.
With Di Canio also directing his ire at the PFA, he expressed his frustration at what he perceives to be the body's attempts to excuse the behaviour of players like Bardsley.
"They excuse people that behave like Phil Bardsley," Di Canio said. "You can't fine them but have to let them speak and explain why. Why do they need to speak? They get fined. They are under a private club. The PFA don't pay them, it's a private club that pays them. They have to now try and understand because for our player we already received a phone call. It was a clear misconduct."
However, while Carlisle - the chairman of the PFA - says he can see where Di Canio is coming from, he believes the PFA have a duty to represent footballers in whatever way possible, and regardless of the situation.
He told ESPN: "I can understand Paolo Di Canio's objections with the fact that there are circumstances where he may feel that the club is well within their right to fine their player. That there are certain circumstances where there are no arguments or questions to answer, but the importance in the matter is that the player has the correct representation. In no matter what the incident is or people's opinions there are protocols that need to be followed, and players aren't aware of those.
"This isn't a case of saying we want every player to get away with whatever misgivings they have or put themselves into. The player is subject to the football club's rules. When they exact those rules and any punishment they give out, we as a union need to make sure our members are informed in that and get the correct representation. It protects the players to make sure they aren't taken advantage and it protects the club to make sure there is no recourse for something that has gone wrong.
"The PFA will frequently condemn and chastise players for their actions. This isn't a case of trying to enable players to get away with bad behaviour or irresponsible actions. We are all about players accepting responsibility for their behaviour, acknowledging that, and starting some kind of rehabilitation or re-education and contribute to bettering themselves. It's not about absolving players of responsibility."
Carlisle also condemned Bardsley's behaviour, describing it as "distasteful and inappropriate", while reminding the defender that his obligations to Sunderland do not cease when he leaves the club's premises.
"He may have done it in jest, we've seen a number of incidents like this before," Carlisle said. "The top and bottom of this matter is that it's distasteful and inappropriate. As a footballer you have to be conscious that even when you're off the clock, you're still a representative of the football club and if your football club deem this behaviour inappropriate then you are subject to their disciplinary procedure. This is what you sign up to when you sign a football contract."