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PFA welcomes FA decision to look again at changes to non-league contracts

Chesterfield midfielder Darren Oldaker (26) Dagenham & Redbridge defender David Longe-King (21) during the Dagenham & Redbridge v Chesterfield National League match

The PFA has welcomed The FA’s decision to go back on proposed changes to non-league contracts affecting National League players and emphasised the importance of early engagement and consultation with players to avoid similar situations in the future. 

The FA’s decision followed pressure from the PFA and players led by a group of National League club captains.

The new changes to Non-League contracts, introduced ahead of the 2023/2024 season, had an impact on the rights and salaries of players who are ill or injured and gave clubs greater power to terminate contracts if a player suffers a long-term injury. 

Though the PFA does not have an agreement in place with the FA or the League to represent National League players as their recognised trade union, they were asked to provide feedback on these changes. As a result, the PFA worked constructively with the FA but informed them that they could not support the introduction of the new contract as they were inferior to the existing non-league player contract. 

Subsequently, the union has supported and been working closely with the National League captain’s group on behalf of the players affected by the changes. 

Following this engagement, The FA has confirmed new changes affecting National League players in the national division. These changes include a return to the default position on sick pay for playing injuries, which means that players will receive their full salary as per their contract. Additionally, the provisions relating to long-term injury will revert to permanent incapacity, as per the previous contract. Finally, references to club-instructed medical professionals will revert back to independent medical examinations.

A union spokesperson said: “We welcome the fact that they listened to the points we raised and have looked to take steps to address the impact on National League players.

“Clearly the impact of the changes on players below the National League still needs to be looked at so that their concerns can be addressed, so we want that conversation to continue.

“Fundamentally, this is a situation that should never have been allowed to reach this stage and one that illustrates perfectly the need to communicate and consult with players early on in the process and, most importantly, listen to that feedback. 

“The reaction we have seen from players is what happens when they feel they are having major changes to their rights and conditions forced on them without proper engagement, and serious lessons need to be learned from that.”

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