The Premier League and the PFA have jointly written to football’s lawmakers, IFAB, to express their continued support for the introduction of a temporary concussion substitute trial ahead of the organisations AGM on Saturday.
The letter is co-signed by Premier League club doctors, who have given their full support for this trial.
The players' union believes that temporary substitutions will provide better protection to players and give greater support to medical staff. Under current protocols – themselves in place as part of an ongoing trial - a player cannot be temporarily replaced if they are removed from play to be assessed for a potential concussion. This means that medical assessments take place on the pitch during a stoppage in play, a situation many in the game believe puts medical staff under too much pressure and limits the time available for checks to be made on the player.
Dr Adam White, PFA Head of Brian Health, said, "This letter, from the players' union and the Premier League, shows that we are united in our efforts to improve how brain injuries are managed during games.
“At the PFA, we've talked to our members. The results of a recent consultation are clear, with nearly 80% of players supporting a trial for temporary concussion substitutes. This feedback reflects what we see as a common-sense next step to prioritise player safety.
“There is a real difficulty when football's lawmakers prevent us from taking the necessary steps to protect players. We believe it's a fundamental issue that needs to be addressed."If temporary substitutions were allowed, a player could be removed from the field for a concussion check and replaced by a temporary substitute. If medical staff were satisfied that the player was safe to continue after an off-pitch assessment, they would be permitted to rejoin the game in place of the temporary replacement."
The letter follows a series of high-profile concussion incidents in football, most notably at the men's World Cup. A significant number of pundits and former pros have criticised current protocols and called for a change to be made to better protect players.
The PFA has been clear that football must ensure that it does not allow itself to be perceived as lagging behind other sports when it comes to managing issues of player safety. Given its global profile, football should be a leader in this field. This letter acknowledges that other sports have introduced similar procedures and observed a positive impact in relation to player welfare.
If permitted, the Premier League would implement such a trial from the start of Season 2023/24. The Premier League and PFA hope that IFAB will take into account the significant support for a temporary concussion substitute trial and take steps to introduce this measure to ensure the safety and welfare of players.