Several Premier League clubs believe current concussion substitution rules are not fit for purpose

0
48


A number of Premier League clubs believe that permanent concussion substitutions are not fit for purpose and that a ‘tipping point’ has been reached following the sickening head injury to Leeds defender Robin Koch.

Sportsmail understands that a growing group – including Leeds and Chelsea – want rulemakers to instead introduce temporary replacements and feel that, under the current rules, players remain at risk.

Their views have been communicated to the top flight and are likely to be passed on to the International Football Association Board, which has been overseeing the trial of permanent concussion subs since it began in February last year. 

Some Premier League clubs think permanent concussion substitutions are not fit for purpose

Some Premier League clubs think permanent concussion substitutions are not fit for purpose

Robin Koch clashed heads with Scott McTominay in Leeds' defeat by Manchester United

Robin Koch clashed heads with Scott McTominay in Leeds’ defeat by Manchester United

IFAB will discuss the matter at their annual general meeting next month.

It comes as the PFA renewed their calls for temporary replacements after Koch was ‘put at risk’ by playing on with a head injury against Manchester United.

The Germany international clashed heads with Scott McTominay in the 13th minute of Sunday’s clash with Manchester United at Elland Road but, after his wound was bandaged up by club medics, he controversially stayed on the pitch.

Koch was eventually substituted in the 31st minute after dropping to the ground and moving his hands in front of his face, appearing to signal to the bench that he was struggling with his vision.

The availability of temporary concussion subs, similar to those used in rugby, would allow club doctors time to make a full head injury assessment before deciding whether a player can continue. 

The availability of temporary concussion subs, similar to those used in rugby, would allow club doctors time to make a full head injury assessment

The availability of temporary concussion subs, similar to those used in rugby, would allow club doctors time to make a full head injury assessment

Under the current rules, players are examined on the side of the pitch while the game continues – leaving their team a player short and putting pressure on doctors to make a decision as quickly as possible.

There is also a view that permanent subs – meaning players cannot return – can make them unwilling to leave the field.

Leeds insisted on Monday that they followed concussion protocols but the incident has raised serious questions over the effectiveness of current rules in protecting player safety.

The Yorkshire club also pointed out that they were in support of temporary subs instead. 

That view is understood to be shared at Chelsea, whose technical and performance adviser Petr Cech sits on the top flight’s concussion panel. 

The former goalkeeper, who famously wore a headguard after suffering a fractured skull during a match with Reading in 2006, is known to have made the point.

Petr Cech, who wore a headguard after suffering a fractured skull, is on the concussion panel

Petr Cech, who wore a headguard after suffering a fractured skull, is on the concussion panel

Others hold a similar view while some wish to wait until the end of the trial before making their feelings known – but there is a belief that the Koch incident could be seen as a tipping point.

Last year, the FA and Premier League introduced additional permanent concussion substitutions on the recommendation of IFAB, allowing clubs two extra replacements if players show signs of a head injury.

However, the PFA and FIFPro, the world players’ union, instead wanted temporary concussion subs.

‘The injury to Leeds United’s Robin Koch demonstrates again that the current concussion protocols within football are failing to prioritise player safety,’ said the PFA in a strongly-worded statement. 

The injury to Koch demonstrates the current protocols are failing to prioritise player safety

The injury to Koch demonstrates the current protocols are failing to prioritise player safety

‘As the representative voice of players in England, we have been clear to IFAB that we want to see the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes. Put simply, the current rules set by IFAB are not working, and players are being put at risk.’

Introducing temporary replacements is also one of the points on Sportsmail’s seven-point plan to tackle football’s dementia crisis.

Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton said: ‘Football doesn’t care about its players. What needs to happen to a player before the concussion procedure changes?’

Leeds said they had followed protocols and added: ‘The medical staff at Leeds United have always been in favour of temporary substitutions for head injuries, as it would allow the staff more time to assess an injury and allow a period for symptoms to potentially develop.’

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here