Today, the PFA is again leading calls for football stakeholders to establish an industry-wide care fund to support players living with dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions.
Since the publication of the landmark PFA and FA funded FIELD study, which showed that ex-professional Scottish footballers born between 1900 and 1976 had an approximately 3.5x increased risk of having dementia as a cause of death, the PFA has been calling for the entire football family to collaborate on a joint response to the issue. Now, after months of discussions, a draft action is in the process of being agreed, with full details to be confirmed once football families living with dementia have confirmed the proposal meets their needs.
Over the last ten months, the PFA has been working closely with the other football stakeholders on an action plan to best protect our members in the area of brain health. This joint approach has resulted in the adoption of heading guidelines across the leagues, commitment to further research programmes and concussion protocols now in place at all clubs. Our renewed appeal for an industry-wide care fund follows months of talks with the major organisations in the game, including CEOs from The FA, Premier League and EFL, where commitment to this level of support has been provisionally agreed.
PFA CEO, Maheta Molango, who joined the organisation this summer, said: “I have been pleased to see how all the English football organisations have been working on a joint approach to this issue. It's great that the entire football family has come together to raise awareness of neurodegenerative conditions, improve education about these illnesses and crucially, find ways to support current and former players living with or at risk of dementia and other conditions. When I initially joined the PFA as CEO, one of my first priorities was for myself and PFA Chairman, John Mousinho, to meet with families to better understand their needs. The PFA will always be an advocate for former players living with neurodegenerative conditions and their families, so now we must consult with them before finalising the parameters of our joint action plan to ensure PFA members have access to the best care possible.
Since January 2021, the PFA has established a new Support Team, including Dawn Astle and Rachel Walden, who have advised the PFA in assessing the needs of former members living with dementia and helped us rescope our support services. Our Support Team helps families access available state benefits, establish power of attorney, organise adult social care, connect with occupational therapists and work through courses on living with dementia. The PFA Support Team can also help families access additional support mechanisms through our partnerships with Sporting Memories and the Jeff Astle Foundation.
We are hopeful the industry-wide care fund will be announced in due course. In the meantime, the wellbeing of current and former professional footballers remains our utmost priority. PFA members living with dementia or other neurodegenerative conditions can continue to access grants from the PFA Charity towards respite care, care in the home and home adaptations. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.