Manchester City and Liverpool take part in heading research

Liverpool and Manchester City

Following calls last year by the PFA to reduce heading frequency in training, the Premier League will begin two studies to identify the forces involved in heading footballs.

The PFA has been participating in the Professional Football Negotiating and Consultative Committee (PFNCC) led sub-committee. The Premier League is undertaking research projects on behalf of the sub-group.

An initial cohort of players from Liverpool FC's U23, U18 and women's teams and Manchester City's U18s and women's teams will participate in one of the Premier League's studies, which is being conducted with sports welfare technology company Sports & Wellbeing Analytics (SWA). Players will be provided with PROTECHT mouthguards, which will collect data to show how the force and frequency of impacts affect the brain and body. The equipment will be fitted with sensors to provide precise measurements and the data will be independently verified.

PFA Assistant Chief Executive Simon Barker said: "The PFA is focused on implementing stronger protections for current players, including lobbying IFAB for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutions, reduced heading frequency in training and rest periods in between heading sessions."

"We are pleased that Manchester City and Liverpool have agreed to participate in this study. The tests now need to be progressed quickly, data analysed, and information shared across the whole football pyramid to protect all our players and members. As a second step, we want the testing to be extended to senior players and include EFL clubs."

The outcome of these studies will inform guidelines for heading in training at professional and adult football levels, which are expected to be implemented ahead of the 2021/22 season.

The guidelines will be agreed by the Premier League, The FA, EFL, WSL, LMA and the PFA, in consultation with clubs, players, managers and medics.

A second study is being conducted in partnership with Second Spectrum, the official tracking and analytics provider for the Premier League. This study will compare match-tracking data from the 2019/20 season with results from the mouthguard study.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: "The Premier League's focus is to make the game as safe as possible for all players.

"We are working with our partners across football to achieve this and the research studies we are undertaking are just one example of our commitment to this important issue. We hope the results of this project will contribute to the development of practical guidelines for the professional and adult game in this country."