Campaigner Dawn Astle praises PFA and Premier League but insists 'much more needs to be done'
Campaigner Dawn Astle has heaped praise on the PFA and Premier League for setting up a new fund to support players with dementia - but insisted the work was 'far from done'.
A new support and care fund has been created by the two bodies to help players who are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, and to support their families.
Dawn, whose father, West Brom legend Jeff Astle, died in 2002 at the age of 59 having been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, has played a pivotal role in creating the fund.
Dawn and her family set up the the Jeff Astle Foundation following his death, which was caused by industrial disease owing to the repeated heading of footballs.
In a statement on social media, Dawn praised the PFA and Premier League while acknowledging the fund has come too late for some former players.
She explained how the new fund is a big step forward - but admitted there is much more work to be done.
She said: "For such a long time, there has been a real need for a care fund that's able to support our families and our players through this truly heartbreaking journey.
"I know it will be such a huge weight lifted off their shoulders knowing this industry-led fund is there to support them with the challenges they face ever single day.
"This week's announcement is only the first step, but it is a significant one.
"However, there is still much work ahead to ensure it can help as many players and their families as possible, both now and in the future.
"My overriding emotion at the fund being established is relief, but there is also sadness because I know this fund has come too late for so many.
"When the PFA approached me in November 2020 and asked if I would help scope a new Brain Health department, I knew what a difference a support and care fund would make to the lives of all those sadly affected.
"Taking the position was a leap of faith, but I wanted to be able to influence change and I felt this was best achieved by being around the discussion table.
"I want to say thanks to the PFA and the Premier League for taking this really important first step.
"I have huge gratitude to my colleagues in the new Brain Health team and my friends for their unwavering support.
"They understand, they are kind and they have an absolute dedication to help our families.
"Our lost loved ones will never, ever be forgotten.
"We must do all we can to protect today's generation and to prevent this happening to generations in the future.
"I hope my Dad is proud, but the job is far from done."