The Premier League will support a new fund created by the Professional Footballers’ Association to assist former players impacted by dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions.
A study commissioned by the PFA and the Football Association found that former professional footballers were 3.46 times more likely to have neurodegenerative diseases and more at risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
The FA has been looking to mitigate against potential health risks and dementia, and last year granted approval to run a trial to remove deliberate heading in matches across the Under-12 level. Now, there will be financial assistance to those already impacted as first reported by Sky Sports News in April.
“An initial amount of £1m will be made available immediately to provide discretionary financial support to former players and their families to help improve their quality of life,” the Premier League said on Wednesday.
“The fund will be in place whilst the PFA and Premier League seek to establish a charity involving other football stakeholders as the longer-term vehicle for support.”
Only the Premier League and the PFA are contributing to the fund, but they are hoping to bring the rest of football involved.
Those who apply for financial support will be assessed by a panel independent of football’s authorities, made up of experts in neurology, nursing and social care.
The fund is not a charity at the moment but the hope is that in the future it will be as this is only a first step and not the finished package.
The £1m that has been pledged is a drop in the ocean compared with the total bill expected for residential care for ex-players with dementia. Head for Change has estimated the cost will be over £1bn in the next few years.
Richard Masters, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “The welfare and care of players has always been a priority for the Premier League, and we feel it is important to offer our support to this newly established brain health fund,”
Maheta Molango, chief executive of the PFA, added: “This is an important step forward in the way football provides practical support to former players who develop dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions.
“There is much that still needs to be done, but this is a positive development that will provide help to former players and their families, and which demonstrates how football has to work together on this issue.”
An FA spokesperson said: “We welcome the new Brain Health Fund, which will provide valuable support for former professional footballers. We will continue to work across the game with stakeholders to provide research, education, awareness and support on brain health.
“As the governing body of English Football, we continue to focus on research into brain health through multiple ground-breaking programmes, such as the Advanced Brain Clinic and BrainHOPE, to help gain a greater understanding of this area through objective, robust and thorough research.”