Former Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear's family bringing head injury legal action against the FA

File photo dated 28-12-2008 of Newcastle United manager Joe Kinnear. Former Tottenham defender and Wimbledon manager Joe Kinnear has died at the age of 77, has family have announced in a statement. Issue date: Sunday April 7, 2024.
Joe Kinnear during his time as Newcastle United manager -Credit:2024 PA Media, All Rights Reserved

Joe Kinnear's family are among those suing football's governing bodies over brain injuries caused by heading.

The former NUFC manager and director of football died at the beginning of April aged 77. He had been living with dementia since 2015. His family are among 35 claimants represented in an ongoing legal battle.

Law firm Rylands Garth said more than 8,000 pages of medical records and pleadings had been submitted on behalf of those claimants. The case alleges that defendants the IFAB, the Football Association, the English Football League and the Football Association of Wales were "negligent in failing to take reasonable action to protect players from permanent injury caused by repetitive concussive and sub-concussive blows".

The FA has in a statement said. it could not comment on ongoing legal proceedings but that it took an active role in reviewing and improving the safety of the sport.

The law firm is representing the former footballers - or their surviving families - and is also acting for hundreds of rugby union and rugby league players in separate actions, but which also involve the long-term impact of head-trauma on sports stars, arguing this has led to a range of irreversible brain conditions including early-onset dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Parkinson's disease and motor neurone disease.

Those involved in the rugby union case include former Newcastle Falcons player Carl Hayman. The case brought by the footballers had a case management hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday.

Ahead of this hearing, it was revealed that Joe Kinnear's family were among those represented by Richard Boardman, of the firm Rylands Garth.

Mr Boardman said: "Today's hearing is the latest milestone in our campaign to seek justice for those who were not protected by the football governing bodies from sustaining brain damage. The sheer scale of the problem is illustrated by the fact that we have filed more than 8,000 pages of medical records and legal documents for the first 17 football claimants alone."

The lawyer criticised the football authorities and added this remained a live issue in the sporting world. He said: "The willingness of active footballers to speak out - as demonstrated by Manchester United centre back Raphael Varane just last month – will only help to bring further awareness to this life-changing issue."

In a statement, an FA spokesperson said: "We are not able to comment on ongoing legal proceedings. We continue to take a leading role in reviewing and improving the safety of our game.

"This includes investing in and supporting multiple projects in order to gain a greater understanding of this area through objective, robust and thorough research. We have already taken many proactive steps to review and address potential risk factors which may be associated with football whilst ongoing research continues in this area including liaising with the international governing bodies."