Written evidence submitted by the Premier League

 

 

Premier League response to DCMS Select Committee inquiry on Concussion in Sport

 

The Premier League welcomes this opportunity to respond to the DCMS Select Committee’s inquiry into Concussion in Sport. The Premier League submission is on behalf of all 20 Premier League stakeholders.

The Premier League and our Clubs are committed to learning more about the short-term and long-term impact of head injuries in sport, providing world-leading head injury care for players and using our influence to help tackle the impact of neurodegenerative diseases in communities across England and Wales.

About the Premier League:

The Premier League is the organising body of the Premier League with responsibility for the competition, its Rule Book and the centralised broadcast and other commercial rights.

The Premier League is a private company wholly owned by its 20 member Clubs who make up the League at any one time.

Each individual club is independent, working within the rules of football, as defined by the Premier League, The FA, UEFA and FIFA, as well as being subject to English and European law.

Each of the 20 clubs are a Shareholder in the Premier League. Consultation is at the heart of the Premier League and Shareholder meetings are the ultimate decision-making forum for Premier League policy and are held at regular intervals during the course of the season.

The Premier League Rule Book, contained within the Handbook (Download: Premier League Handbook - PDF 41.8MB), serves as a contract between the League, the member Clubs and one another, defining the structure and running of the competition.

  1. Executive Summary
  1. Concussion in Football

In recent years research into the long-term impact of head injuries in sport has increased significantly. The Premier League and our Clubs are committed to providing world-leading head injury care for players. A series of evidence-based mitigation measures are in the process of being implemented by the Premier League in consultation with football partners to protect player welfare.

There is a significant amount of ongoing work across the football partners. As such the need for collaboration and co-ordination is essential. A new cross-football Head Injury Policy Oversight Group has been established to ensure resources are used effectively. This group will have the task of steering the multiple working groups and ensuring that the partners are aligned strategically. This level of cross-football collaboration will provide us with as large an information base as possible to make the important decisions relating to player welfare. The Premier League provides significant annual funds to the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) which is used for research and support for former players. We will continue to play a supportive role to our football partners in areas in which they lead. This includes longer-term causal research led by The FAs Research Taskforce and the support of former players suffering from neurodegenerative diseases where the PFA is the primary organisation.

  1. The Premier League’s Role

 

It is incumbent on the Premier League to lead Clubs by developing frameworks that they can administer, and by offering on-going support that incorporates best practice. The Premier League and our Clubs are committed to providing world-leading head injury care for players and using our influence to help tackle the impact of neurodegenerative diseases in communities across England and Wales.

As we set out above, the Premier League is committed to providing world-leading head-injury care for players, and our priority is to mitigate the risk for current and future players. As part of our Head Injuries Action Plan – of which more detail can be found in Section 4: ‘Looking Forward’ – activity led by the Premier League will seek to contribute to at least one of the following objectives: 

 

  1. To continually develop a world-leading system and protocols related to head injuries within the Premier League and academies.
  2. To use the influence and reach of the Premier League and Clubs to increase awareness of neurodegenerative diseases.
  3. Develop dementia-friendly football clubs, increasing services for supporters and other members of the community with dementia.

To deliver these objectives the Premier League has taken the lead on projects that inform mitigation measures for both sub-concussive events i.e. heading, and concussive events i.e. collisions. Additional activities primarily focused on the Premier League, our Clubs, players or community beneficiaries, have been identified and will also be led by the Premier League. 

Outside of football, we also work with partners from cricket and rugby union on the Sport United Against Dementia campaign to increase understanding of dementia and the tailored support for those diagnosed with dementia, including former players. We take our role in this group very seriously and look forward to continuing our engagement with other sports to increase understanding of dementia and use our reach to educate and support families across the country that are impacted by neurodegenerative diseases.

This is currently, and will remain, an issue of upmost importance to the Premier League and as such progress in this area will be monitored by the Premier League’s Board at regular intervals.

  1. Looking Forward

The Premier League’s Head Injuries Action Plan incorporates various workstreams and is backed by funding from the Premier League itself. This investment will add to the existing funding arrangements in place with the PFA to support research and support for former players.

Within the action plan, we will be implementing a range of work streams to best protect player welfare. They include:

Head injury protocols

Heading guidelines

Education and wider support

The activities outlined above are the starting point for the action plan. This plan is expected to evolve as further research increases our understanding of the subject. As part of the action plan, we seek to make meaningful change across the next three years throughout football. By using the workstreams included in our action plan that are set out above, we hope take steps to put in place appropriate best practice across the game of football, and ensure football partners understand the long-term effects of head injuries and the impact of mitigation measures put in place to protect players. We also intend to play our part in supporting the wider society with the growing issue of dementia.

  1. Conclusion

The Premier League supports the ongoing work to understand both the short-term and long-term impact of head injuries in football, and sport. The science of concussion is evolving at pace and this will enable sporting bodies to be able to implement measures based on evidence in the coming years. Our priority is, and will remain, to mitigate the risk for current and future players. We will continue to do this by engaging with other domestic football partners, sports and experts in the field in order to understand the issue, and to ensure that our protocols, now and going forward, are world-leading and evidence-led.