An MP has said footballers who develop dementia should receive financial support. 

Ian Blackford, former SNP Westminster leader, has called for dementia among footballers to be classified as an 'industrial injury', which would allow them greater access to financial and professional support. 

It comes after a series of studies have exposed links between heading a football and the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Back in 2019, a 'landmark' University of Glasgow study revealed that former professional footballers were three and a half times more likely to die after developing dementia.

Dr Willie Stewart, who led the study, called for better management of head injuries during matches and said all contact sports needed to take steps to reduce the risks. 

The Professional Footballers Association, the trade union for footballers, have now set up a fund to support affected players.

Lisbon Lions Billy McNeill and Stevie Chalmers, and former Scotland manager, Ally MacLeod are just some of the better-known Scottish stars who have died from neurodegenerative diseases.

Glasgow Times:

In the House of Commons, Blackford said: “So many of those suffering as well as their families face challenging, distressing times often without the support that would make a difference both in terms of professional and financial support.

“Dementia suffered by these players should be classed as an industrial injury. This reclassification would not only provide much-needed financial and social support but also as parliamentarians it is up to all of us to demand that the UK Government and the devolved administrations use their powers to support those that need early intervention, appropriate care and support.

“I think what we have to recognise is that the people we are talking about, the Jeff Astles and the thousands of people that are suffering...these were often people that were paid an average industrial wage."

Blackford added:“Often they are having to rely on other family members or they are having to give up work early because let’s remember that football players very often went into other careers.”

Glasgow Times:

Also speaking during the debate, SNP’s Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) highlighted the lack of comprehensive research into the impact of women hitting the football.

She said: “We just do not know what the impact on women is of hitting the ball in football. And the more that we see women playing football and the more that women are playing football, the more pressing it is that we close that gap in research and we do so pretty sharpish.

“Because women and girls footballers deserve far better than that. So research and further discussion, I think are necessary as a matter of urgency.”