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Byline: PAUL SUART Football Writer

GORDON Taylor has dismissed allegations that the Professional Footballers' Association ignored a rise in dementia cases among former footballers amid fears about compensation.

Dawn Astle, daughter of West Bromwich Albion icon Jeff Astle, has accused football authorities of turning a blind eye to links between heading balls and the onset of brain disease.

Jeff, who scored many of his 174 goals for Albion with his head, was only 59 when he died in 2002 of a form of dementia known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. A landmark verdict of death by industrial injury was recorded by the coroner.

The Jeff Astle Foundation, founded by Dawn, has been contacted by the families of 300 former footballers ravaged by brainrelated conditions.

But only now, 16 years after a pilot study was conducted, have the PFA and the Football Association commissioned a body of scientific research.

"We are not ignoring this topic," Taylor, chief executive of the PFA - the players' union which protects the welfare of its 50,000 members - told the Birmingham Mail.

In Sunday's Alan Shearer TV documentary on football and dementia, he admitted he did not know how many PFA members were suffering from brain disease.

But Taylor, who has been in post for 36 years, told the Mail: "It's not been covered up. We have more information on this than is available in most other sports.

"I think people are worried that clubs and leagues are not wanting to know more about it because of legal action. People can only be negligent if they know about it, and ignore it.

"Sometimes it gets very frustrating for families. I know from my own experiences how sensitive and difficult it can be to deal with.

"But it's something I hope we can address "We understand Dawn's feelings and concerns. I've met her on a number of occasions and we are doing all we can."

Taylor said the research would attempt to establish whether former footballers are more likely to develop brain diseases than members of the wider population.

It will involve medical tests on a sample of 35 ex-players and 35 men who have remained fit and healthy, but not by playing football.

The probe will investigate brain function and capacity with the two sets of results compared for any "causal links".

"We are appointing research to be done in an authentic manner accepted by the medical professional as being independent," Taylor added.

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 16, 2017
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