The football authorities should dig deep to help Scots footballers with dementia

Frank Kopel died from dementia -Credit:SNS
Frank Kopel died from dementia -Credit:SNS

The Daily Record has backed calls for football-related dementia to be treated as an industrial injury. The Labour MSP Michael Marra and STUC general secretary Roz Foyer have both advocated the move.

There is strong evidence linking the heading of footballs with dementia. Now a charity has said the cost of caring for ex-players who suffer this terrible illness could hit £1billion in the coming decades.

Amanda Kopel has told how her late husband, Frank – who suffered with dementia – was given no financial support from the football authorities.

Amanda Kopel
Amanda Kopel -Credit:Daily Record

Frank had given much to the game in an 18-year career that saw him become a legend at Dundee United. Amanda was told the players' union and SFA had no money to help them before he passed away 10 years ago.

All they were offered was a one-hour counselling session. As we have argued, football-related dementia should be treated as an ­industrial injury, with the benefits system altered appropriately. But the football authorities must also do more.

The sport is awash with money. Millions of pounds in sponsorship and broadcast deals are paid out every year. Last summer British clubs spent over £2billion in transfer fees and nowadays the top players are paid handsomely – even in Scotland.

The costs of caring for stricken players who become ill because of their playing careers must not just be left to the taxpayer and loved ones. The football authorities – from governing bodies to players’ unions – should dig deep to help.

A power for good

Many will disagree on the successes and failures of the ­Scottish Parliament in the last quarter of a century.

But what it has done is shifted the focus of a large part of political decision-making from London up to Edinburgh.

Education, justice, health, transport and some tax powers are now controlled by our representatives in Holyrood.

Over the past 25 years, the parliament has achieved much and made a ­difference to people’s lives.

Scotland was a pioneer when it came to the ban on smoking in public places and Scots receive free NHS prescriptions.

There are other ways in which ­Holyrood has fallen short but these failings reflect badly on ministers and not the institution itself.

Some outside of Scotland – and perhaps some within – would like to see the end of the Scottish Parliament.

It is vital Holyrood stands up to those who seek to threaten its powers and undermine its achievements.

Our Parliament has been a good for the country and must be protected.

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond. Sign up to our daily newsletter.