Jeff Astle's family want new guidelines to go further

The family of West Brom legend Jeff Astle have warned that new rules to protect concussed football players do not go far enough.

Former England and West Bromwich Albion star Jeff Astle died aged 59 after collapsing suddenly at his daughter's home.
Former England and West Bromwich Albion star Jeff Astle died aged 59 after collapsing suddenly at his daughter's home.

Earlier this month the Football Association introduced new rules that club doctors will be allowed to remove players from the field if they suspect concussion.

The Premier League has also announced that 'tunnel doctors' will be mandatory for all games, and will be able to assist club doctors in assessing concussion.

But Dawn Astle, daughter of former Albion striker Jeff, has said football needs to address the wider issue of head and brain injuries in the sport.

A prolific header of the ball, Jeff died in 2002 of suspected Alzheimer's aged just 59, but new tests have revealed that he had the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is found in brain-damaged ex-boxers.

Dawn said: "We welcome any steps, however small, to address the problem of brain injuries.

"But these are for players present and future - what about players past?

"The bit we are disappointed about is that there's no mention in this new guidance that concussion can be fatal, no mention of long-term problems, or that children take longer to recover.

"There's nothing in there about long-term implications, which is what dad had."

Last season Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was knocked unconscious on the field, but allowed to play on.

Dawn added that it is a 'kick in the teeth' that the FA are seemingly doing something after that incident, which happened in front of the television cameras, but nothing was done for players 40 years ago.

She said: "People say that the ball has changed, that it's lighter, but there's no research to say it's any safer than the old ball, because it travels at a faster speed.

"So for people to assume it's safe is wrong."

Other aspects of the new guidelines include all Premier League staff having to carry a Concussion Recognition Tool, while annual pre-season testing of mental faculties is also recommended - concussed players will be retested to see if they are functioning as they were before their injury.

Dawn, her mother Laraine and sister Claire met with FA chairman Greg Dyke before last Sunday's Community Shield match at Wembley, in which he pledged to keep in touch with the family as it researched the effects of head injuries.